Rocket Internet sells stake in Africa ecommerce firm Jumia

Rocket Internet sells stake in Africa eCommerce firm Jumia

BERLIN (Reuters) – German tech investor Rocket Internet said on Thursday it had sold its stake in African eCommerce company Jumia, which has seen its shares steadily fall since they listed last April on Wall Street.

Rocket Internet, which had held an 11% stake in Jumia as of Nov. 8, sold its holding between then and the onset of the coronavirus crisis, Bettina Curtze, the firm’s head of finance and investments, told journalists, declining to be more precise.

Curtze declined to reveal what proceeds Rocket Internet made from the sale but said they were included in the 2.1 billion euros ($2.30 billion) of net cash the company had as of March 31.

Jumia shares soared when the company became the first African tech stock to list on Wall Street on April 12 but tumbled a month later after Citron Research, run by short-seller Andrew Left, questioned some of its sales figures.

Jumia reported in February that its fourth-quarter adjusted loss before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation rose by 5% to 51.2 million euros, and said it had 232 million euros of cash as of the end of 2019.

Berlin-based Rocket Internet has helped set up a raft of start-ups, which it has later listed, eventually selling down most of its stakes.

That has prompted speculation that the company might seek to go private, but Curtze declined to comment on that issue on Thursday.

Rocket now only holds stakes in furniture site Home24 and Global Fashion Group, which sells fashion online, plus stakes in more than 200 private companies.

It said the total fair value of those private companies was about 1.1 billion euros as of Dec. 31 but noted that the coronavirus crisis might have a significant impact on that figure.

($1=0.9144 euros)

Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Michelle Martin

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