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Naspers' rumoured Citrus Pay acquisition 'unsurprising'

Naspers' rumoured Citrus Pay acquisition 'unsurprising'

Reports of the looming purchase of India's online payments company Citrus Pay by Naspers, which owns Dstv and other media and technology businesses, comes as no surprise according to a South African-based industry analyst. The Times of India has reported that talks are underway for the acquisition of Citrus Pay in a deal priced at between US$150 and US$180 million.

Arthur Goldstuck, Managing Director at World Wide Worx, says Naspers has a strong and growing presence in the e-commerce space in India, and it should be expected for it to expand and consolidate its presence in the country over time.

"Naspers is worth more than $60-billion. I'd say it has the resources to make an acquisition of a few hundred million dollars. It is difficult to say at this stage whether an investment will be worthwhile in the long run, but Naspers has a powerful track record in investments in emerging markets, and I would not bet against them on something of this nature." says Goldstuck, who added that India's population size would be a motivating factor for such a deal "but the real attraction of the Indian market is its steep growth trajectory, and therefore the massive potential of ecommerce in that market."

Citrus Pay's consumer base reached the 10 million mark in November 2014. The digital payments company was incorporated in April 2011 and has attracted investment from reputed global investors including Japanese investment company Beenos, online payments provider econtext Asia and US$1.8 million from US-based venture capital firm Sequoia Capital which has also invested in technology companies like Paypal, WhatsApp, Google, Square and Evernote.

Goldstuck emphasises that the acquisition, if concluded, would amount to a small transaction in relation to the Naspers market cap. "Naspers is already a competitor and an acquisition of this nature will help it both to consolidate its leadership, as well as remove a potential competitor from the arena. It's a payments equivalent to Facebook buying WhatsApp both to consolidate its position and remove a potential threat to its leadership."

Meloy Horn, Head of Investor Relations at Naspers could not offer any comment on the potential transaction. "It is the company's policy to neither acknowledge nor deny its involvement in any merger, acquisition or divestiture activity, nor to comment on market rumours."

The alleged purchase of Citrus Pay by Naspers comes only weeks after India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a business meeting that South Africa is India's key trade and investment partner.

"In the last ten years, bilateral trade has grown almost 380%. The story of investments also continues to be bright. There is continuous flow of investments both ways. More than 150 Indian companies are operating in South Africa. Similarly, many companies of South Africa are doing excellent work in India."

Modi urged businesses in both countries to leverage each other for growth and development.

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