Naspers and Prosus, two of the world’s largest technology investors, announced on Monday that their chief executive officer Bob van Dijk has stepped down from his position and the board of both companies, effective immediately. Van Dijk, who has led Naspers since 2014 and Prosus since its listing in 2019, has agreed to remain as a consultant to the group until September 30, 2024, to provide support through the transition period.
The companies said in a statement that the boards and Van Dijk “mutually agreed” on his departure, without giving any specific reason for the decision. They thanked him for his leadership and contributions over a full decade, during which he established substantial businesses in classifieds, food delivery, payments, and other sectors.
Ervin Tu appointed as interim chief executive
The boards of Naspers and Prosus have appointed Ervin Tu as the interim chief executive of both companies. Tu joined the group in 2021 as the group chief investment officer, after working at SoftBank Group and Goldman Sachs. He is known as a deal-maker who has made significant contributions to the strategic direction of the company.
Tu will assume the role of interim chief executive with immediate effect, while the boards conduct a global search for a permanent successor. He will also join the boards of Naspers and Prosus as an executive director.
Naspers and Prosus face challenges amid market volatility
The leadership change comes at a time when Naspers and Prosus are facing challenges amid market volatility and regulatory uncertainty. The companies have a large stake in Chinese internet giant Tencent, which has been under pressure from Beijing’s crackdown on the tech sector. Tencent’s share price has fallen by more than 40% since its peak in February, dragging down the valuations of Naspers and Prosus.
To address the discount between their market value and their stake in Tencent, Naspers and Prosus have undertaken several measures, such as share buybacks, asset sales, and a cross-shareholding deal. However, these moves have not been enough to narrow the gap or boost investor confidence.
The companies have also been investing heavily in growth areas such as e-commerce, fintech, education, and health. They have made several acquisitions and partnerships in recent years, such as OLX Group, Delivery Hero, Udemy, BYJU’S, and GoodRx. However, these businesses are still loss-making and face intense competition from rivals.
Naspers and Prosus remain optimistic about the future
Despite the challenges, Naspers and Prosus remain optimistic about the future of their businesses. They said in their statement that they have a strong portfolio of leading companies across various markets and sectors. They also said that they have a clear vision and strategy to create long-term value for their shareholders and stakeholders.
The companies said that they are confident that Tu will provide continuity and stability in the execution of their key priorities during the interim period. They also said that they are looking forward to working with him and the rest of the management team to achieve their goals.