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Nov 26 2008

Naspers blows R500m and no-one says a word

Published by at 11:02 pm under Companies,Top Stories

Naspers released its financial results for the 6 months up to end September today, and they were good (under the circumstances even very good).

I’ll write about the results tomorrow, but one aspect I’d like to touch on already tonight is the loss incurred with the “German-mobile-TV-project-gone-sour”. (Read all about it here and here.) Until now the responsible people at Naspers were always “not available for comment” when I asked about the size of the loss. 

It turned out, the loss was not as insignificant, as I had written before. In fact, a packet of money was lost. In the interim report released yesterday a loss of R279 million was shown for the year up to March 2008 and another R216 million for the 6 months up to end September 2008.

It’s not quite clear from the report whether one should add the two numbers to get to the overall amount pumped into the project, or whether only the last R216 million should be connected to the project. (The license was awarded in January 2008, so the project only really “got going” this year.)

In the interim report Naspers simply said the post “refers mostly to our withdrawal from a German mobile TV project”. 

If one must infer from that (as I think one should), that R495 million was pumped into the sand, all I can say is: Shame on the SA business media for not reporting more extensively on this project (until now). Even if only half was lost, shareholders would still have liked to know about the project.  

For perspective: The MWEB Africa Group was recently valued at R610 million.  

Could it be that nothing (or almost nothing) had been written about the German project, because all the financial journalists worth their salt are employed by Naspers and are, therefore, per definition “not interested” in Naspers projects-gone-sour?

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