South African internet and media conglomerate Naspers, best known for making an early investment in Chinese messaging app WeChat owner Tencent, has set up a venture capital arm here as it looks to step up pace of investments in the country.

The firm has roped in Ashutosh Sharma, who till recently was with the India team of Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Norwest, to lead investments and merger and acquisitions in the country.

Investors tracking the industry say the move also underlines a shift in Naspers strategy for India, where it is looking to back local entrepreneurs against running incubation plays in companies where it owns over 90-95% stake. Naspers is one of the largest in India’s internet story with about $1.5 billion invested here and owns classifieds player OLX, travel firm ibibo, payments firm PayU and a 15% stake in India’s most-valued internet firm, online retailer Flipkart.

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