Naspers' directors to have significant shares in company after share exchange deal

Naspers' directors to have significant shares in company after share exchange deal

FILE PHOTO: Naspers logo is seen in Johannesburg
Naspers logo is seen in Johannesburg, South Africa, Oct 9, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

JOHANNESBURG: The incentives of executive directors in Naspers Ltd will be linked to the performance of the company and a share exchange programme with subsidiary Prosus will not alter that, the company said on Thursday.

Last month, Naspers and Prosus had announced a share exchange programme under which Prosus, listed on Euronext in Amsterdam, would issue new shares to buy up to 45.4 per cent of its parent Naspers' shares listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

The deal, which analysts have said would lead to a vast cross holding structure, was done to shrink a steep discount that Naspers currently trades at to the value of its holding in Prosus and to the value of its blockbuster investment in China's Tencent Holdings, which is held 28.9 per cent by Prosus.

However, analysts and shareholders have argued that a vast cross holding will not help in reducing the steep discount and could potentially take away the board's incentive to work towards the interest of Naspers shareholders.

"We continue to be committed to Naspers," Bob van Dijk, CEO of both the companies, told Reuters.

"Basil (CFO Basil Sgourdos) and I actually have most of our financial health, our long term financial health, tied up in Naspers share options. And we promised our shareholders that we will not exercise those options," he said.

Naspers, Africa's biggest company and a technology behemoth, holds a 73.2 per cent stake in Prosus, where all of its international assets spread across e-commerce, food delivery, fin tech, education technology are housed including Tencent.

In a separate statement, the company said its core headlineearnings per share - the main gauge of corporate profit in South Africa - for the period that ended Mar 31 is expected to increase by between 135 and 181 cents per share.

It will be announcing its full year results on Jun 21.

Source: Reuters/ec

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