How a Small Bet on Tencent Made an African Firm One of the World’s Most Valuable – By Alexandra Wexler Updated Nov. 30, 2017 2:20 a.m. ET


JOHANNESBURG—Africa’s most-valuable company has become this year one of the world’s most-valuable companies, too.

On Wednesday, Naspers Ltd. NPSNY -0.86% —a media and internet firm little known outside South Africa and Silicon Valley—reported a surge in half-year earnings. The performance, bolstered by the company’s 33.3% stake in Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. TCEHY -3.98% , sent the stock up 0.8%, bringing its gains over the past 12 months to 84%.

Naspers, which was founded in 1915 as a newspaper publisher, is now the world’s 65th largest listed company by market value among the Stoxx Global 3000 index. Last year, it wasn’t close to breaking into the top 100, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

The climb has been driven almost entirely by Tencent’s own soaring share price. In 2001, Naspers paid $34 million for its stake in the Chinese company. Based on Tencent’s current market capitalization, that holding is now worth about $170 billion; however, investors have baked in a discount for Naspers shares because of a dividend-withholding tax that would kick in should it ever sell out. Naspers’s market cap ended Wednesday at about $121 billion.

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