Bob van Dijk, the long-time CEO of Dutch technology investor Prosus and its South African parent company Naspers, has stepped down from his role.
This announcement comes alongside the appointment of Ervin Tu, who previously served as the head of M&A at the company, as the interim CEO for both Prosus and Naspers.
The companies, known for their substantial 26% stake in the Chinese tech giant Tencent, valued at approximately $100 billion, have not disclosed the specific reasons for Van Dijk’s departure. However, sources have indicated that Van Dijk’s departure was a natural transition after nearly a decade at the helm of Naspers, a tenure that surpassed the average CEO’s tenure at FTSE 100 companies.
This development also coincides with a significant restructuring in the relationship between Naspers and Prosus, as Prosus has now divested itself of its shares in Naspers.
Tu, with a background that includes a managerial role at SoftBank’s Vision Fund, is entrusted with overseeing Prosus’s diverse investments in consumer internet businesses, ranging from food delivery and payment solutions to online marketplaces and educational software. Analysts speculate that Tu is the frontrunner for the permanent CEO position, given his experience and knowledge of the company’s operations.
Market reactions to the news were mixed, with Prosus shares trading down by 0.9% in Amsterdam, and Naspers’ shares down by 1.5% in Johannesburg. Meanwhile, Tencent shares also closed down by 1.6% in China.
Bob van Dijk, who led Naspers since 2014 and Prosus since 2019, will continue to contribute to the companies as a consultant until September 30, 2024.
Naspers retains a 43% ownership stake in Prosus and holds a commanding 72% voting interest. Ervin Tu has stated that Prosus is actively exploring options to unlock further value, including the possibility of listing some of its investments on the stock market. However, Tu cautioned that such endeavors require time and careful consideration.
Prosus also plans to pursue share buybacks in an effort to narrow the valuation gap between Naspers/Prosus and Tencent.
This leadership change and restructuring mark a significant chapter in the history of these technology investment giants, and shareholders will be closely watching as Ervin Tu takes on the interim CEO role, steering the companies through the evolving landscape of the tech industry.