Ervin Tu has been announced as the interim CEO of Naspers and Prosus following the resignation of Bob van Dijk, the chief executive of both entities.
On Monday, September 18, Naspers, Africa’s largest company by market capitalisation, and its subsidiary Prosus, Europe’s largest consumer internet company, announced that CEO Bob van Dijk would leave the company. Van Dijk had been CEO of Naspers for ten years and CEO of subsidiary Prosus for four years. He will be succeeded by the group’s chief investment officer, Ervin Tu.
Tu received an undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Dartmouth College in 1997 and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management in 2004. Following his MBA, he joined Goldman Sachs, and in 2014, he eventually became managing director in the technology banking group, focused on M&A deals.
Tu joined SoftBank as a managing partner at the SoftBank Vision Fund in 2016. There, he was part of the team that led investments in Uber and Bytedance, among others, across technology sectors, including transportation, logistics, delivery, next-gen media, and sustainability. His time at SoftBank also saw him co-leading M&A and corporate finance for SoftBank Group International.
In June 2021, Tu joined Naspers and Prosus as the group chief investment officer based in San Francisco, California. In the newly created position, Tu led investments across the Prosus and Naspers group, reporting to now-former CEO Bob van Dijk.
In his role at Naspers/Prosus, Tu has most prominently overseen the group’s handling of its stake in Chinese technology company Tencent. Naspers initially bought its Tencent stake in 2001 and currently holds, through Prosus, a 26% stake in the company worth $112 billion. This stake is more than Naspers and Prosus’ entire market capitalisations. Since mid-2022, Prosus has been selling off its Tencent stake, then 29%, to finance an open-ended share buyback program intended to bridge the gap between its market value and the value of its assets.
Tu has also overseen the share swap deal between Naspers and Prosus. In May 2021, Naspers announced a share swap deal with Prosus to reduce the discount between the asset value of the companies and their market capitalisation. The deal, successfully completed in August 2021, reduced Naspers’ stake in Prosus to 56.92% and gave Prosus an approximately 49% share in its parent company.
In March, Tu also oversaw the termination of the Naspers Foundry, which was South Africa’s most prominent venture capital fund. The R1.4 billion fund (~$73 million), launched in October 2019, was an early investor in some of the country’s most prominent startups, including Sweepsouth, Planet42, and Naked Insurance. Only half of the fund had been invested in twelve startups when it was shut down.
Regarding M&A deals at Naspers/Prosus, Tu led the team that completed the acquisition of the developer-knowledge-sharing platform Stack Overflow in June 2021. Other acquisitions deals in Tu’s time at the group include the online learning platform Goodhabitz also in June 2021, iFood and Delivery Hero in August 2022, Udemy in August 2021, and Skillsoft, a portfolio company of Prosus’s acquisition of Codeacademy in December 2021. Under Tu, Prosus also divested from the Russian social media platform VK in March 2022, writing off its 27% stake following the country’s invasion of Ukraine and selling a stake in fintech platform PayU to Rapyd for $610 million.
As the new CEO of Naspers, Tu’s role will encompass continuing the group’s strategic goals, which remain unchanged despite the abrupt change in management. This will include bringing the company’s consolidated e-commerce portfolio to profitability while maintaining growth and leading capital allocation across the Group.
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