Koos Bekker
South Africa

Naspers

Koos
Bekker

Chairman

Koos Bekker has transformed Naspers from a small-time publisher into Africa’s largest company by market capitalization, scoring big with shrewd investments in emerging markets while building the largest media empire on the continent.

When Bekker took over Naspers as C.E.O. in 1997, the company was best known as the publisher of an Afrikaans-language daily newspaper. But in 2001, Bekker invested $32 million in what was then a fledgling Chinese tech company, Tencent. Today that company’s messaging services, such as WeChat, have more than 1 billion users worldwide, pushing Naspers’ market valuation to nearly $65 billion.

That windfall has allowed the South African billionaire to continue his tech investments in developing markets, scoring with the likes of Russian Internet giant Mail.ru, and India’s largest e-retailer, Flipkart. He also presides over an African media empire that includes DStv, the continent’s largest pay-TV platform, and the burgeoning VOD service ShowMax.

Born Jacobus Petrus Bekker in Potchefstroom, South Africa, Bekker studied the emerging pay-TV industry while at Columbia Business School in the 1980s. When he returned to South Africa, he became one of the founding shareholders of M-Net, Africa’s first pay-TV company. In 1991, he co-founded mobile operator MTN, today Africa’s largest telecom. He retired as the C.E.O. of Naspers in 2014 and returned as chair the following year.

Career

  • Naspers
  • MTN
  • M-Net

Education

  • Stellenbosch University (South Africa)
  • Wits University (South Africa)
  • Columbia University (NY, USA)

Variety Honors

  • 2017 Variety500 Honoree
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