Who Owns Tencent: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Article Teaser: Who Owns Tencent: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Tencent Holdings Limited (HK:700) is a Chinese technology company focused mainly on gaming, social media (QQ), and messaging (Weibo/WeeChat). Tencent makes money predominantly from gaming by selling virtual items, advertising, and financial transactions. Let’s now look at who owns Tencent and who controls it.

The largest shareholders that own Tencent Holdings Limited are investment group Prosus, which owns 29% share, followed by founder and CEO Ma Huateng (8%). Main shareholder Prosus is a Netherland-listed company controlled by Naspers, the South African-based holding company.

 Tencent's Largest Shareholders (Jun 2022)
Shareholder Ownership Voting Power
Prosus 28.7% 28.7%
Ma Huateng 8.4% 8.4%
Martin Lau 0.6% 0.6%
Other 62.3% 62.3%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Annual Report

Tencent largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart) Tencent largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart)

The largest shareholder is investment group Prosus, which owns 29% of the company.

  • Prosus is controlled by Naspers Limited, a South African holding company.
  • Nasper does not own Prosus directly but through several intermediate holding companies (Prosus -> MIH Internet Holdings B.V. -> MIH TC -> Tencent)
  • Prosus and Naspers are intertwined since Prosus has a cross-holding stake in Naspers.
  • Naspers is controlled through holding companies “Naspers Beleggings (RF) Limited” and “Keeromstraat 30 Beleggings (RF)”. These two companies control the majority of voting power in Naspers.
  • Unfortunately, it is not publicly known who is currently the ultimate beneficiary in control of Naspers.

The second largest shareholder is Tancent’s co-founder, CEO, and chairman Ma Huateng, which owns an 8% stake.

  • Most of Ma Huateng’s ownership is through his company, “Advance Data Services Limited.”

A sizable stake for an “employee” also has Tencent’s president, Martin Lau, who owns a 0.6% stake.

Tencent was founded in 1998 by Ma Huateng (Pony Ma), Zhang Zhidong (Tony Zhang), Xu Chenye (Daniel Xu), Chen Yidan (Charles Chen), and Zen Liqing (Jason Zeng).

  • Except for CEO Ma Huateng, the other co-founders are no longer actively involved in the company. Most of them hold the title of “Emeritus advisor.”
  • It is not known how large stakes other co-founders still own.
  • The last official number is from the end of 2013, when confounder Zhan Zhodong was still a board member and owned 6,12% of Tencent. At the same time, CEO Ma Huateng owned a 10.2% stake.
  • Zhan Zhodong left the company in 2014, so his ownership was not disclosed in the following years.

Tencent Holdings Limited is a publicly listed company. Its shares have been publicly traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange since 2004 under the ticker “700”.

  • After the IPO at the end of 2004, CEO Ma Huateng’s stake was 13.74%, and CTO Zhan Zhodong stake was 6.12%.
  • There are also ADRs linked to Tencent shares traded on the US OTC market under the ticker TCEHY.

One of Tencent’s subsidiaries, Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME), is traded on NYSE (ticker TME), but this is just one part of Tencent that is focused on music streaming in the Chinese market.

Tencent Holdings Limited is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, but its headquarters are in Shenzhen, China.

In this article, I will dive more into who Tencent’s largest shareholders are, how many shares and votes they have, and how much their stake is worth. I will also explore some other topics related to its ownership structure.

If you are interested, you can also explore who owns other companies like Microsoft, Alphabet(Google), Lenovo, IBM, or Meta.

🎮 Who Owns Tencent (HK:700) and Who Has Control?

Tencent largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Tencent has only one class of outstanding shares, with one vote per share. Therefore, there is no difference between the shareholder’s ownership and voting power.

The shareholder with the largest voting power is Prosus, which holds 29% of all votes, followed by founder and CEO Ma Huateng with 8% control.

None of the shareholders has individual control over the company. However, when we add control of the two largest shareholders together, we arrive at a voting power of 37%.

  • Technically we can’t call it control since they don’t own the majority of the company.
  • However, since the rest of the ownership is dispersed, and some smaller shareholders’ votes are not represented in annual meetings, they might have effective control over Tancet.
  • The balance of power might change if Nasper/Prosus decides to decrease its stake.

The role of insiders, especially CEO Ma Huateng and president Ma Huateng, is significant. They are executives holding the reigns of the company, and at the same time, they hold the votes without which it is hard for major shareholder Prosus to control the company.

The company board of directors has eight members, and every year only a third of them are up for reelection. Except for CEO Ma Huateng and president Martin Lau, none of the other board members own over 0.05% of Tencent.

🗳️ Breakdown of Tencent’s Outstanding Shares and Votes by Top Shareholders

Tencent Holdings Limited had a total of 9,622 million outstanding shares as of June 2022. The following table shows how many shares each Tencent’s large shareholder holds.

 Tencent's Outstanding Shares by Shareholder
In millions of shares as of June 2022
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Prosus 2,765 2,765 28.7%
Ma Huateng 805 805 8.4%
Martin Lau 55 55 0.6%
Other 5,997 5,997 62.3%
Total (# millions) 9,622 9,622 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Annual Report

There were 9,622 million votes distributed among shareholders of Tencent Holdings Limited. The table below shows the total number of votes for each large shareholder.

 Tencent's Vote Control by Shareholder
In millions of votes as of June 2022
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Prosus 2,765 2,765 28.7%
Ma Huateng 805 805 8.4%
Martin Lau 55 55 0.6%
Other 5,997 5,997 62.3%
Total (# millions) 9,622 9,622 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Annual Report

💵 Breakdown of Tencent’s Market Value by Shareholder

The following table summarizes how much is each shareholder’s stake in Tencent Holdings Limited worth.

However, keep in mind that a stake in Tencent could be just one part of their portfolio, and their total worth could be bigger, thanks to other investments. It could also be lower if they have debts.

 Tencent's Market Value by Shareholder
Market value in billions $ as of June 2022
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Prosus $124.9 $124.9 28.7%
Ma Huateng $36.4 $36.4 8.4%
Martin Lau $2.5 $2.5 0.6%
Other $270.8 $270.8 62.3%
Total ($ billions) $434.6 $434.6 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Annual Report

Let’s now look at each Tencent shareholder individually.

📒 Who Are the Largest Shareholders of Tencent Holdings Limited

Let’s now go through the list of the largest shareholders of Tencent Holdings Limited one by one and look at who they are, how many shares they own, what is their voting power, and how much is their stake in Tencent worth.

#1 Prosus

Prosus holds 29% of Tencent’s shares, making it its largest shareholder.

Tencent largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Prosus owns 2,765 million Tencent shares, representing 2,765 million shareholder votes. The market value of Prosus’s stake in Tencent was $124.9 billion as of June 2022.

Prosus is an investment company focusing mainly on technology businesses worldwide. Prosus is registered in the Netherlands and listed on Euronext Amsterdam (Ticker: PRX).

Prosus is controlled by the South African holding company Naspers by complicated mutual cross-ownership. Naspers itself is controlled by two holding companies that do not disclose their shareholders.

Naspers purchased a 46,5% stake in Tencent back in 2001 for $34 million. The stratospheric rise in Tencent’s market value meant that the value of Naspers was and still is strongly linked to the value of Tencent.

#2 Ma Huateng

Ma Huateng holds 8% of Tencent’s shares which makes it its second-largest shareholder.

Tencent largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Ma Huateng owns 805 million Tencent shares, representing 805 million shareholder votes. The market value of Ma Huateng’s stake in Tencent was $36.4 billion as of June 2022.

Ma Huateng (Pony Ma) is the founder, CEO, and chairman of Tencent. He co-founded Tencent in 1998 with his classmates and turned it into one of the world’s largest companies, making him one of the wealthiest people in the world.

#3 Martin Lau

Martin Lau holds 1% of Tencent’s shares which makes it its third-largest shareholder.

Tencent largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Martin Lau owns 55 million Tencent shares, representing 55 million shareholder votes. The market value of Martin Lau’s stake in Tencent was $2.5 billion as of June 2022.

Lau Chi Ping (Martin Lau) is the president and board member of Tencent. In 2005 he left Goldman Sachs and joined Tencent as Chief Strategy and Investment Officer. In 2006 he was promoted to president of Tencent to manage day-to-day operations.

🧱 Who and When Founded Tencent

Tencent was founded in 1998, and its first product was the instant messaging service QQ which was more or less based on the popular ICQ tool.

The co-founders of the company were:

  • Ma Huateng (also known as Pony Ma), who still serves as CEO and chairman.
  • Zhang Zhidong (Tony Zhang) served as chief technology officer and left the company in 2014
  • Xu Chenye (Daniel Xu) served as chief information officer
  • Chen Yidan (Charles Chen), who left the company in 2013
  • Zen Liqing (Jason Zeng) The company went public in 2004 in Hong Kong.

Tencent became a significant player in social gaming, and this is where a significant part of its profits comes from. The company also acquired stakes in several gaming studios and became an important game developer.

In 2011, Tencent launched Weibo, rebranded to WeChat for the international Market. Weibo/WeChat became extremely popular in China, and Tencent turned it into a “super-app,” which also includes payment services. Tencent thus became a significant FinTech player in China.

📅 Tencent’s History Timeline

These are selected events from Tencent’s history:

  • 1998: Tencent was founded
  • 1999: Launch of instant messaging service QQ
  • 2001: Naspers, a South African media company, purchased a 46,5% share of Tencent.
  • 2004: Tanced listed on Hong Kong Stock Exchange under ticker 700
  • 2008: Acquisition of minority stake in Riot Games
  • 2009 Tencent Games became China’s largest online game platform.
  • 2011: Launch of Weixin (rebranded as WeChat for the international market in 2012)
  • 2011: Acquisition of majority stake in Riot Games, developer of League of Legends game.
  • 2013: Tencent launched Weixin/WeChat Pay.
  • 2013: Co-founder Chen Yidan (Charles Chen) stepped down as Tencent’s Chief Administrative Officer.
  • 2014: Co-founder and CTO Zhang Zhidong (Tony Zhang) leaves the company
  • 2014: Tencent acquired a 15% stake in the e-commerce website JD.com.
  • 2015: Acquisition of a minority stake in Epic Game, the game developer behind Fortnite.
  • 2015: Tencent Pictures and Penguin Pictures established
  • 2015: Tencent launched WeBank, China’s first online-only bank.
  • 2016: Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME) established
  • 2016: Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME) was listed on New York Stock Exchange under the ticker TME.
  • 2017: Tencent acquires a 12% stake in Snap Inc.

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