Jumia’s investors rethink their stakes — for better and worse
Baillie Gifford, the Edinburgh-based asset management firm long known to have a penchant for pre-IPO tech companies, has reduced its shares in African e-commerce giant Jumia, per the latest 13G/A filing released by the asset manager.
According to the filing, Baillie Gifford disclosed ownership of 18.75 million shares in Jumia, representing 9.39% of the company. In Jumia’s previous filing from a year ago, the asset management firm had 19.85 million shares, owning 10.06% of the company at the time. That’s a 5.50% decrease in shares and a 0.67% drop in ownership.
The Scotland asset management firm, well into its centenarian years, has been an early backer of reputable private and public tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Salesforce, Tesla, Airbnb, Spotify, Lyft, Palantir and SpaceX. It has also invested in deals across other geographies, including China’s Alibaba and NIO, and African-based internet businesses Naspers and Jumia.
Baillie Gifford bought Jumia shares in 2019, three years after the e-commerce giant went public. The Scottish mortgage trust firm, which is Jumia’s largest institutional investor, has sold and bought back a portion of its shares every January since then, with this recent move being its most significant share drop yet. Baillie Gifford remains the e-commerce platform’s largest shareholder.
Last November, following several years of reporting losses, Jumia made changes to its management after installing Francis Dufay as acting CEO to replace co-founders Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara, who resigned from their co-CEO roles. The move came with instant cuts across various product lines and redundancies, including letting go of a few executives from its Dubai office. All this is to chase profits that have eluded the company.
In Q3 2022, the African e-tailer made considerable progress in trimming its losses by 13% from $52.5 million to $45.5 million, its lowest in six quarters. Despite this progress, public confidence in the e-commerce outfit seems to have waned. Jumia has seen its share price reduced by 51% within the past year and saw its stock drop to $3.88 per share after Wednesday’s news; it trades slightly above $4 with a market cap of $404 million. The e-tailer closed the third quarter with a liquidity position of $284.7 million, among which $104.3 million is in cash and cash equivalents.
Baillie Gifford’s decision to sell some of its shares may have to do with Jumia’s performance on the bourse. On the other hand, it could be the investment firm’s way of cutting back on the mounting losses it began to incur last year, particularly around growth stocks, which have taken massive hits in the face of rising interest rates and recession fears (last week, the investment group admitted 2022 was a “humbling year” after it lost more than $14 billion on stakes in Tesla and Shopify, according to Financial Times). Yet that doesn’t explain why the fund group, with over $230 billion AUM, increased its position in other loss-making companies, such as Chinese EV maker NIO and Wix.com, this past week. Jumia’s next earnings call next month should shed more light on the matter.
It’s not all gloom for Jumia, though, as other large shareholders, including D. E. Shaw, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, took a different route and increased their shares in the company, owning 2.21%, 1.27% and 1.40%, respectively, per Nasdaq.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.