South African e-commerce and media firm Naspers Ltd said on Saturday Chief Executive Koos Bekker would step down in April after 17 years of explosive growth that transformed a small publisher into an emerging markets giant.
Bekker will be replaced by e-commerce chief Bob van Dijk, the company said in a statement. Bekker will take a year off to travel and look for new growth opportunities for the company before returning as chairman in April 2015.
Under Bekker, a soft-spoken executive hailed for a string of prescient investments, Naspers went from an Afrikaans-language publisher into a $48 billion multinational by investing in Internet companies and fast-growing markets.
Bekker’s greatest success was Naspers’ investment in Tencent Holdings, which has become China’s largest Internet company and in which Naspers owns around a third.
Bekker will stay on as a board member of Tencent, Naspers said.
“I hope to travel to places like Seoul and San Francisco, where the future is being manufactured, and see if there are new technologies we should be trying out,” Bekker said in a statement.
Van Dijk, 41, has previously headed up the German arm of eBay Inc.
Naspers has been investing heavily to become a major player in on-line classified ads globally and as well as in other e-commerce platforms.
Its other businesses include pay television across South Africa and Africa and it has operations in emerging markets from Brazil to eastern Europe.