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South African media billionaire takes innovation sabbatical

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South African media billionaire takes innovation sabbatical

Naspers media subsidiary, Media 24, is cited by Business Day Live as the biggest South African publisher of newspapers (40 percent of dailies and 45 percent of weeklies) and magazines.

Bekker turned Naspers into the biggest media group outside the U.S. and China by bringing technological innovations to the South African and African market. At first he pioneered the introduction of pay TV in the mid-to-late 1980s with M-Net, which Naspers took a large stake in.

He then diversified into the mobile telecoms market in the nineties with mobile phone operator MTN. Successful investment in internet technology in the early 2000s before a further move into Ecommerce in 2008 have furthered the dizzying rise of the company. Its current market capitalisation value is US$ 45 billion. Bekker accrued his fortune of US$ 1.1 billion by choosing share options instead of a salary, as he had already made a private fortune through M-Net.

In an interview with Fin24, a part of Media 24, Bekker gave some hints as to where he was going to travel for inspiration, naming Korea, Berlin and controversially New York, “San Francisco is usually seen as the international hub of the Internet and related technological businesses, but I sense that the real changes are happening in New York.”

To find new markets, Bekker wants to talk to young people to “... find out how they are thinking, what they want, what they are looking for…”. He also took a sabbatical six years ago.

Koos is to be replaced as CEO by Bob van Dijk, former head of Ebay Germany.


William Pimlott


2014-02-25 12:05

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