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JOHANNESBURG, June 23 (Reuters) - South African e-commerce and pay-TV giant Naspers reported a 41 percent jump annual profit on Friday as strong results from its Chinese money spinner Tencent offset weak performances from its pay-TV and other e-commerce ventures.
Founded in 1915, Naspers has transformed itself from an apartheid-era newspaper publisher into a $85 billion multinational with private equity-style investments e-commerce platforms such as auction sites, online retail and e-classifieds.
But it owes much of that valuation to its 33 percent Tencent stake, which is worth about $114 billion rand, or 20 percent more than Naspers itself. The discount has prompted some investors to urge Chief Executive Bob van Dyk to find ways to narrow it.
Naspers, South Africa's biggest company by market value, said core headline earnings totalled $1.8 billion, or 406 cents per share, compared with $1.2 billion, or 298 cents per share, a year earlier.
Core headline EPS is Naspers' main profit measure that strips out non-operational and one-off items.
Naspers said its e-commerce division, which excludes Tencent and houses assets such as OLX, the biggest classifieds sites in India and Brazil, widened losses to $682 million from $648 million.
"During the 2018 financial year the group will keep scaling its commerce businesses to drive profitability and cash generation," the company said.
Naspers has ploughed around $4 billion since 2012 into the business to drive growth mainly in e-commerce platforms and reduce its dependence on Tencent and pay-TV, which thrives in South Africa but faces headwinds elsewhere.
Shares in Naspers rose 2.18 percent to 2,627 rand at 1355 GMT. (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla and Tiisetso Motsoeneng, editing by David Evans)