Bob van Dijk, the long-time CEO of Dutch technology investor Prosus and its South African parent company Naspers, has stepped down from his position. This move comes as M&A chief Ervin Tu takes on the role of interim CEO for both companies. The departure of Van Dijk coincides with a restructuring in Naspers/Prosus relations, as Prosus will no longer hold shares in Naspers.
Tu, a former manager at SoftBank’s Vision Fund, will now oversee Prosus’s investments in consumer internet businesses, which include food delivery, payments, online marketplaces, and educational software. Analysts believe that Tu is the most likely candidate to permanently succeed Van Dijk.
The main asset held by both Naspers and Prosus is Prosus’s 26% stake in Chinese tech giant Tencent, which is valued at approximately $100 billion. It is important to note that the companies have clarified that they have no intention of divesting from Tencent, emphasizing its status as “one of the best tech companies in the world.”
Van Dijk’s departure from Naspers comes after nearly a decade of leading the company. During his tenure, he oversaw Prosus’s successful IPO in 2019, which saw the company’s stock thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the value of Prosus and Naspers experienced a decline along with the wider technology market, and Van Dijk struggled to reduce the discount in their value compared to Tencent.
Although Van Dijk has stepped down as CEO, he will remain as a consultant to both companies until September 30, 2024. As for Prosus, Tu has stated that the company is exploring various strategies to unlock value, including potential stock market listings for some of its investments. However, he cautioned that these situations require time and emphasized that Prosus will continue pursuing share buybacks to bridge the valuation gap between Naspers/Prosus and Tencent.