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Tencent's biggest shareholder says Chinese tech has been a 'bloodbath' — but the future looks bright

Key Points
  • Naspers, a South African consumer internet company, owns a 31% stake valued at roughly $126 billion in Chinese tech giant Tencent.
  • In an interview at the Money20/20 Europe conference on Monday, Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk said China's tech scene has been a "bloodbath" in recent months.
  • Van Dijk blamed trade tensions between the U.S. and China but said he's not worried about Tencent.
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Chinese tech stocks have been in a 'bloodbath' but the future is bright: Naspers CEO

Tencent's biggest shareholder is bullish on Chinese tech stocks despite the trade war between the U.S. and China.

Naspers, a South African consumer internet company, owns a 31% stake in Chinese tech giant Tencent. In an interview at the Money20/20 Europe conference on Monday, Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk said tech stocks in China, including Tencent, have fallen victim to the trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

But, he added, the fundamentals of China's economy remain "very, very strong."

"The China tech stock scene has been a bloodbath in the last few months," he said. "I think it has everything to do with trade tensions and that affects everybody. It's not good, it's not good for anybody, but in the end if you take a 10-year view, which is what we typically do, the market is there, the innovation is there, so I think the long-term future is bright."

The China tech stock scene has been a bloodbath in the last few months.
Bob van Dijk
Naspers CEO

The KraneShares CSI China Internet exchange-traded fund, which tracks Chinese tech stocks including Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba, has tumbled 14% in the past three months as the U.S and China have ratcheted up tariffs on each others' goods. Technology has emerged as a heated battleground in the trade conflict as both countries seek to dominate new areas like 5G and artificial intelligence.

Shares of Tencent have fared better this year than in 2018 after Chinese regulators restarted approving video games, a key source of the company's revenue. In addition to gaming and messaging, Tencent is also growing its payments and cloud services.

Naspers' van Dijk said he expects tech companies will continue to be targeted in the trade war but added he was "not so worried about Tencent" thanks to its domestic business model.

Naspers made a $32 million investment in Tencent in 2001, betting on what was then a little-known company. That stake is now worth roughly $126 billion as of Tencent's market close Monday.

"It's been probably the best investment ever done by a company so we're quite lucky to be associated with them, but if I look forward, the best is yet to come," van Dijk said.

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