Naspers, Africa’s largest company based on market value, is gearing up to spend $1 billion in India in the form of investments focused on the financial technology market.
According to a report in Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, Naspers is looking for investments that can replicate the success it had in investing in Tencent, the Chinese technology giant. Tencent also operates WeChat, the wildly popular messaging app. Naspers is Tencent’s largest shareholder even after scaling backs its holdings last year. In March it sold 190 million shares in Tencent earning it about $9 billion in cash. That reduced its stake to 31.2 percent from 33.2 percent. At the time Naspers said proceeds would go toward growth opportunities in global classified, online food delivery and FinTech.
The FinTech market is attractive to investors because the financial industry has long been in need of disruptions. In India, there is a big opportunity to reach the unbanked, which isn’t lost on Naspers.
The African internet and media company has already invested in Indian startups, but the report noted its focus to date has been on food delivery in the country. For example, in December it led the $1 billion fundraising round for Swiggy, the Indian online food company. Bloomberg reported Naspers is already in talks with Capital Float, an Indian lender, and Wimbo, a payments startup, about investing some $200 million. It will mark the first efforts to put the $1 billion to work, noted the report.
Naspers launched in 1915 as a newspaper publisher but has seen its valuation skyrocket thanks to its Tencent investment. It also owns a stake in Delivery Hero of Germany. It previously owned Flipkart, the Indian eCommerce company, before selling it to Walmart.
Naspers isn’t the only investor eyeing the startup market in India. The country ended 2018 on a high note, with startups receiving a combined $10.5 billion in funding, setting a record. The startups raised the capital in 924 rounds. In 2017 Indian startups raised $10.4 billion with 1,141 rounds. In 2016 the funding stood at just $4.3 billion.