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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Tencent loses $24 bln in market cap after Naspers' selldown

Tencent drops almost 10 per cent in two days

Shares of Tencent plunge as Naspers sells stake. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
Shares of Tencent plunge as Naspers sells stake. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

China's Tencent Holdings saw its shares down 4.51 per cent at the midday trading break on Friday after the internet firm's largest shareholder, Naspers, said it would lower its stake for the first time in 17 years.

The Hong Kong-listed stock opened 7.8 per cent lower at HK$405, its lowest opening price since Feb. 9, before regaining ground to HK$419.6 by noon. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was down 2.81 per cent.

A day earlier, the stock fell 5 per cent following Tencent's late Wednesday report showing quarterly revenue missed estimates as well as expectations of margin pressure, although profit beat forecasts.

Friday's decline wiped $24 billion off Tencent's market value, though at $508 billion, it is still Asia's most valuable listed company and fifth globally behind Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp.

South African media and e-commerce group Naspers said on Thursday it planned to sell up to 190 million Tencent shares, or 2 per cent of its holding, in a sale that could earn Naspers up to $11 billion. It also said it had no plans to further reduce its holding for the next three years.

"The funds will reinforce Naspers' balance sheet and be invested in classifieds, online food delivery and fintech globally," said CICC analyst Natalie Wu. "We think it is a good opportunity to buy into dips given Tencent's solid fundamentals."

Jefferies analyst Karen Chan said, "Given Naspers' largest single shareholding and board representation in Tencent, we believe its stake sale is unlikely to be a reaction to Tencent's quarterly results. Instead of a timed profit-taking move, we believe this is more to improve Naspers' own free cash flow and allow it higher flexibility in pursuing investment opportunities."

A Tencent spokeswoman said it was informed and supportive of Naspers' decision, and that Naspers' intention to keep its remaining stake for the next three years demonstrated its confidence in Tencent.

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