Naspers, the South African media conglomerate, has said in its investor presentation that it invested ZAR 92 million (around $12.8 million or Rs 59.2 crore at current rates) in MIH India (Ibibo) during the 2010-11 financial year (FY11). This is substantially more than the ZAR 76 million (around $10.6 million at current rates) it had invested in 2009-10 the financial year (FY10), but less than the ZAR 98 million invested in the company during the 2008-09 fiscal. MIH India Global Internet Limited (MIH India) is a joint venture between Naspers and Tencent, and owns the social network Ibibo.com and e-commerce businesses Tradus.in and GoIbibo.com. In the annual statements, Naspers makes the following statements about its Indian business:
– Good growth in social media and micropayments
– Successfully launched marketplace trading platform
– Established largest domestic online travel website
– Created payment platform and integrated major banks, credit card companies and mobile operators
In particular, the claim of being the largest domestic online travel website (GoIbibo) is unexpected – we would have thought that established OTAs like MakeMyTrip, Yatra and Cleartrip, or platforms like Via would be larger.
Naspers also owns 30% in Mobile VAS company ACL Wireless, 36.1% in mobile advertising and content company Buzz City, and 43.6% in Mobile Instant Messenger and Internet Telephony service Nimbuzz, as well as a majority 71.5% (fully diluted) stake in classifieds business OLX. MIH’s acquisition of Gaadi.com* from Accentium Web in February 2011 finds no mention in the report.
During the 2009-10 fiscal, Ibibo launched social games, integrated telecom operator billing for microtransactions, launched a mobile browser. More recently, it opened up its gaming platform API to developers.
Tencent Increases Stake To 19.9%
Chinese Internet major Tencent, in which Naspers owns around 34% stake through its MIH business, has acquired an additional 9.9% stake in MIH India, by exercising its options. According to MIH’s annual reports, “At 31 March 2011
Tencent held a 19.9% interest in MIH India with the remaining 80.1% held by the group.” In the past, Tencent has acquired 6% in December 2008, and another 4% in March 2010. TenCent, in 2008, had also said that it would invest $7.5 million in MIH India.
Readers should keep in mind that Tencent has the option to acquire stake of up to 50% in MIH India, in lieu of licensing its technology and content: MIH India has an exclusive license to this technology for an initial period of seven years (starting 2008), following which MIH can keep the technology, but it will be on a non-exclusive basis.
*Disclosure: My cousin Vivek Pahwa owns Accentium Web Pvt Ltd