* Newcomer van Dijk has e-commerce background
* Bekker to step down on April 1, will return as chairman
* Naspers worth nearly $50 bln
By David Dolan
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 22 South Africa's Naspers Ltd
named company newcomer Bob van Dijk as chief
executive, looking to tap his expertise in e-commerce in line
with a strategy that has already transformed it into an emerging
markets force worth nearly $50 billion.
The company said in a statement on Saturday that Chief
Executive Koos Bekker would step down in April after 17 years of
explosive growth that turned the Cape Town company into one of
the world's most valuable media and internet firms.
Van Dijk's appointment marks the rare promotion of an
outsider to Naspers' top job and underscores its growing
emphasis on e-commerce platforms such as auction sites and
classified ads, areas where he has substantial knowledge.
"In view of our strong development focus on e-commerce, the
board believes that Bob has the skills to lead us into the next
phase of our growth," Chairman Ton Vosloo said in a statement.
The 41-year-old van Dijk joined the group last year to head
its eastern European on-line marketplace business. Before that
he led the German arm of eBay Inc.
Traditionally Naspers has drawn much of its leadership from
South Africa's close-knit community of Afrikaner elite - unlike
the Dutch van Dijk, a former McKinsey consultant with an MBA
from business school INSEAD.
Van Dijk will take over on April 1. Bekker will take a year
off to travel and look for new growth opportunities for the
company before returning to replace Vosloo as chairman in April
Under Bekker, Naspers went from an Afrikaans-language
publisher into a $48 billion multinational by investing in
internet companies and fast-growing markets.
Bekker's greatest success was Nasper's investment in Tencent
Holdings Ltd, which has become China's largest
internet company and in which Naspers owns around a third.
Bekker will stay on as a board member of Tencent, Naspers said.
"I hope to travel to places like Seoul and San Francisco,
where the future is being manufactured, and see if there are new
technologies we should be trying out," Bekker said in a
Founded in 1915 as Nasionale Pers, or "National Press",
Naspers was widely seen as the mouthpiece for the white minority
government. But with the end of apartheid in 1994, it has
increasingly focused on building and acquiring internet
businesses in fast-growing markets.
It also has a highly lucrative pay-television business
across South Africa and much of Africa, as well as stakes in
newspapers and magazines in South Africa and other emerging
Its share price has increased around 64-fold since 1994.
Naspers is the fifth-most valuable global internet services
company, according to Thomson Reuters data. Only Google Inc
, Facebook Inc, Tencent and eBay have larger
stock market values.
The stock hit a record 1,304.40 rand as recently as Feb. 19.