Naspers hires ex-HBO exec as ShowMax CFO


According to Bloomberg, Naspers named Akash Bhatia chief financial officer of its Showmax video streaming business, as Africa’s biggest company by market value expands the service to 36 new countries in a challenge to Netflix, which is also growing in the region.

Bhatia has previously worked for Time Warner’s HBO and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. He is currently vice president of finance at Naspers’s classifieds business.
Africa’s largest pay-TV provider is seeking to win over streaming customers before Netflix gains more of a foothold in Africa, a region that can support more growth compared with mature and slowing markets such as North America and Europe. Showmax was made available to Naspers’s pay-TV customers last month. The service started in August and is available in 65 countries offering a Nollywood section, as well as an African Film section that pulls together classic movies from across the continent.

“What attracted me to Showmax is the growth potential and how they’re tackling expansion,” Bhatia said in an e-mail. “The approach of being locally relevant in everything from content and functionality to payments and partnerships makes a lot of sense.”

In other Nasper’s news, Tech Central reports that Naspers is seeking to further boost its international Internet business as it grapples with falling pay-television subscription numbers in sub-Saharan Africa.

The company, which usually spends half a billion dollars a year on acquisitions, is “on the lookout’ for more deals, CEO Bob Van Dijk said in a phone interview on Saturday, without giving further information on potential targets.
The company has transformed itself from a South African newspaper publisher into a continent-wide multimedia provider and backer of emerging-market Internet businesses. It now counts on Internet businesses for about 70 per cent of revenue.
Naspers has benefited from an early investment in Tencent Holdings, in which it owns a 34 per cent stake. It also owns Africa’s biggest pay-TV network, MultiChoice. The pay-TV business has been struggling, with subscription numbers falling by 288 000 in 2016.

“We have also lost a lot of subscribers in the last year in sub-Saharan Africa; people have just not been able to afford it,’ Van Dijk said. “We bill in local currencies, but our costs are in dollars. It is quite painful when the currencies are running in the wrong direction.’

The company has frozen prices and says it expects a difficult few years in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: Bloomberg


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