FRONTIERS-South Africa heads north

May 26 (BestGrowthStock) – South African companies and investors are
beginning to use their base in Africa’s biggest and most
sophisticated market as a springboard to move into the
continent’s fast-growing frontier markets.

Here are four companies leading the charge:

* MTN (MTNJ.J: )

Launched in 1994, South Africa-based MTN has grown rapidly
to become the largest mobile phone company in Africa, with
operations in 16 countries on the continent, and a presence in a
further five countries in the Middle East.

As of end-March, it had 124 million subscribers. Its
customer base grew by a year-on-year 7 percent — 7.6 million
users — in the first quarter, although its South African arm
showed very little growth in what is already a saturated market.

* STANDARD BANK (SBKJ.J: )

Established in 1862 as The Standard Bank of British South
Africa, Standard Bank has expanded from its original base in the
coastal city of Port Elizabeth to become the continent’s biggest
bank, with a presence in 17 countries.

It also operates in 16 markets beyond Africa, and in late
2007 signed a landmark partnership deal with the Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) (1398.HK: )(601398.SS: ) that
involved selling the world’s most valuable bank a 20 percent
stake for $5.5 billion.

* SHOPRITE (SHPJ.J: )

From humble beginnings as a small chain of South African
supermarkets in 1979, Shoprite has become Africa’s Number One
grocer, with 71 stores in 16 African markets outside South
Africa, where it runs more than 300 outlets.

Its successful push north, which started in Zambia in 1995,
has been based on its South African formula of offering basic
household goods at cheap prices.

* NASPERS (NPNJn.J: )

Originally a print media business in South Africa only,
Naspers has evolved in the last 20 years into a multinational
electronic media firm with pay television and internet interests
in much of sub-Saharan Africa, China, India, Russia, Eastern
Europe and elsewhere.

Its African satellite pay-TV operations mean it is possible
to watch European soccer in even the most far-flung and remote
corner of the continent.

Stock Research

(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Simon Robinson and Sara
Ledwith)

FRONTIERS-South Africa heads north