Koos Bekker: A South African Billionaire


Jacobus Petrus Bekker, alias Koos, is a prominent South African businessman. Known for his vast riches, Mr.  Koos Bekker chairs Naspers Media group, which operates in about a hundred and thirty countries. Naspers has the greatest market capitalization of any media company outside the United States, China, and India. Bekker remains in the field of commerce for his lifelong fortunes and exceptional understanding of economic trends.

The Early Life and Education of Koos Bekker

Koos Bekker was born on December 14th, 1952, in Potchefstroom, Northwest Province, South Africa. He attended Hoër Volkskool Heidelberg during his early days. Later he went through Stellenbosch University, where he graduated with a degree in law and literature. Later, he enrolled at Wits University to further his studies in law. Moreover, he is also an MBA graduate of Columbia University in the United States.

Koos Bekker Family

Bekker, currently 68 years of age, is a happily married man with three beautiful families. He has a supportive wife, Karen Roos Bekker, with whom he has sired two children. The Bekker family resides in the leafy suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa.

Koos Bekker’s Career

Ripe from learning institutions, Koos had gathered enough knowledge to steer off his career. After advertising for a couple of years, Koos received an MBA degree from Columbia business school. His journey as an executive officer began with a project paper he and his colleagues were working on.

They had invented one of the first two pay-television services outside of the US. It was not long before M- Net and its sister companies such as Multichoice expanded to 48 states across Africa. In the 1999s, Koos became the founding director of a mobile communication company.

In 1997, Bekker became the Chief Executive Officer of Naspers, one of the initial investors in the M-Net/ Multichoice group. Naspers bought the other shares, granting it full control. Amid Bekker’s governance, Naspers grew from $1.2 billion to $45 billion. Bekker’s compensation package was in that he did earn a salary for fifteen years despite being the CEO and was solely compensated through stock option grants that vested over time.


Koos Bekker’s Achievements

Known for exemplary works, Mr. Bekker is among the few individuals who have worked in many firms and served in executive positions for his unique business skills. As stated above, Bekker founded the MTN Mobile company in the 1990s, then later rose to the rank of Chief Executive Officer in 1997 at Naspers. During those times, Naspers was the leading investor at M-Net/ Multichoice group.

Also, sources indicate that Bekker’s governance was the driving force behind the steady net worth that rose from $1.2 billion to $45 billion. Despite him quitting his post at Naspers in 2014, the company offered him the following year’s chair post.

If it were not for Bekker, Naspers would not be where it is currently. The lad played a significant role in internet communication, e-commerce, gaming, and entertainment company.

Also, Mike and Koos Bekker partnered sometime back for a car dealership. The two entrepreneurs established the company in 2008. They used to purchase roadworthy vehicles that came with complete certification.

Koos Bekker Networth

Currently, Koos Bekker’s net worth stands at 3.2 billion dollars, ranking him among the top South African billionaires and Africa at large. He has invested across the world, in and out of Africa. Newspapers, the internet, books, magazines, and education are some of the investments he has ventured into.

Naspers company, which he chairs, conducts businesses in Europe, Africa, China, Asia, Latin America, and several other small countries. According to Forbes, when Koos became the chief executive officer of Naspers, the company’s market capitalization rose from $600 million to $25 billion.

To date, Bekker continues to serve as director of Media 24 and Multichoice. Also, he directed the 2010 FIFA Worldcup, which occurred in South Africa 11 years ago. Throughout Bekker’s career, he has led massive investments into reputable internet companies. Some of these investments include shares in China’s Internet and instant messaging leader Tencent Holdings, Brazilian Magazine publisher Abril, and Russian Internet giant Mail.ru.

The Forbes 2019 list ranked Bekker as the 1002nd wealthiest person globally and fourth richest in South Africa. This year, Forbes ranked Bekker the third wealthiest person in South Africa, with a fortune worth $3.2 billion.


Who Owns Naspers?

Naspers Limited is a profitable South African company founded in 1915. Jannie Marais and Hommeyr started the company with support from Jan Christiaan Smuts, J.B.M, Hertzog, and Louis Botha. Bekker has played a significant role in Naspers’ development, giving his best like it was his investment.

To date, the company specializes in internet communication, e-commerce, gaming, and entertainment. Currently, Bekker is way ahead of American cable TV in South Africa.

Bekker and Philanthropy

In most cases, the rich tend to contribute towards the well-being of the poor. For Koos, not much has been documented regarding his contributions towards charity. However, by linking him to Naspers, the company he chairs, we see him contribute towards the novel virus. COVID-19, which has tremendously impacted South Africa, has received massive support from the state’s billionaires.

Naspers released R1.5 billion in emergency funding to help the government respond to coronavirus outbreaks in the country. It also contributed R500 million to the Solidarity Response Fund, which aimed to mitigate coronavirus’s impact on the state. Naspers also promised to purchase personal protective and other medical supplies worth R1 billion from China.

Koos Bekker thanked the Chinese government for their support and encouragement. He stated that the Asian state has always been a friend to Africa, and they value their solidarity amid the crises.


Other Facts on Koos Bekker

Being a businessman, Koos Bekker awed many after launching a multi-million-pound garden estate in the United Kingdom. The estate lies on a 400-hectare piece of land. It includes a hotel, garden, and a restaurant. The hotel comprises 13 suites in a Georgian mansion and ten rooms in the Stable Yard’s.

According to reporters, Mr. Bekker and the wife acquired the property in 2013 and renovated it. Initially, the three-hundred-year-old property housed the Hobhouse family. Approximately for two centuries. Amid an interview with the Financial Times, Mrs. Roos credits her husband for always being a great thinker. She says that living in a little courtyard would be enough for her, unlike Mr. Bekker, who thinks on a large scale.


On many occasions, successful people in business or rather celebrities tend to draw the attention of people. Mr. Bekker is no exception. As much as some celebrate him for his exemplary business skills, others tend to find faults. Bekker getting to the top has not been a walk in the park. In some instances, he made mistakes, which he, of course, overcome after some time. Some years ago, his decision to reappointed a new Chief Executive Officer was the worst. More so, as it was not long before Naspers started declining in performance.

Around December 2017, Former Communications Minister Yunus Carrim accused Kois Bekker, Naspers, and Multichoice of lying. Yunus testified to the Zondo commission that Bekker played a significant role in irregularly pressuring government officials to protect Multichoice’s effective monopoly over South Africa’s pay-TV sector.

“Given what Multichoice and Naspers are saying in the public domain is just not true, I have no choice but to speak out. I do not doubt that Naspers, Mr. Bekker in particular, and Multichoice had a big hand in changing Government policy. The clause in that Multichoice and SABC agreement that refers to the need for SABC to support the dropping of encryption was done to influence government policy,” said Yunus.

Also, Bekkers decision to work without salary as a CEO for seventeen years sparked mixed reactions. At that time, the decision became controversial. However, Bekker stated that he decided to work all those years without pay, to focus on building its value. Nevertheless, in an interview with Fin24, Bekker acknowledged that his decision to work without pay was a gamble.

Although it worked for him, he cautioned people not to follow the same path because it is a high risk. I.e., in case of any problem, one might go bankrupt. Bekker states that during his first five years at Naspers, he worked his ass off. But the internet bubble burst in 2000, leaving the market to collapse. Amid that period, he earned no cash.

From his point of view, Bekker states that risks are high. Unless one has made some money in early life, that can keep them going if things go wrong. The possibilities of landing in financial difficulties are high. However,  his decision helped him align his interests to that of the company, making him reason like the co-owner. Bekker’s grand decision to focus his efforts on making Naspers great marked the turning point in his life; it made him what he is today. To date, South Africans and the world at large recognize him as a billionaire.


Related Posts

Illuminating the Promise of Africa.

Receive captivating stories direct to your inbox that reveal the cultures, innovations, and changemakers shaping the continent.