South Africa's Naspers is considering raising $2.5 billion to fund acquisitions, it said on Friday, as the e-commerce and media group looks to continue its expansion in fast-growing online markets in developing countries.
Africa's largest company by market value, Naspers has transformed itself from an apartheid-era publisher into a $60 billion internet powerhouse by focusing on e-commerce in emerging markets.
It has operations in more than 130 countries and stakes in Russian internet group Mail.Ru Group and China's biggest social network and online entertainment firm Tencent Holdings.
Naspers, which also reported a 41 percent jump in half-year profit on Friday, said it had appointed Citigroup and Morgan Stanley to advise on how to go about raising the $2.5 billion.
The money would be used to partly fund the acquisition of an additional stake in Russian online classified business Avito, in which it is increasing its stake to 68 percent from 17.4 percent, the company said.
The Cape Town-based company, founded in 1915 as Nasionale Pers, or "National Press", said the money would also strengthen its balance sheet to invest in other growth opportunities.
Naspers said its half-year profits were boosted by a big contribution from Tencent
The company, which also runs Africa's biggest pay-TV business, said core headline earnings per share totalled 2,098 cents in the six months to the end of September compared with 1,486 cents a year earlier.
Sales rose 24 percent to 74.3 billion rand ($5.2 billion)driven by strong growth in its e-commerce and internet business, which includes Tencent.
Shares in Naspers, up nearly 50 percent so far this year, ended 3.7 percent lower at 2,143.15 rand, underperforming a 1.17 percent decline in the blue-chip JSE Top-40 index.
($1 = 14.2850 rand) (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Susan Thomas and Mark Potter)