Naspers spreads Russian web

15 July 2010

South African media group Naspers is to acquire a stake in Digital Sky Technologies, one of the largest internet companies in the Russian-speaking markets, in return for its stake in Russian internet portal Mail.ru, as well as a cash investment.

As part of the deal, Naspers’ Myriad International Holdings subsidiary will take a 28.7% stake in Digital Sky Technologies (DST) in return for a 39.3% stake in Mail.ru, as well as investing US$388-million in cash.

After completion of the transaction, DST will own nearly 100% of the Mail.ru portal, which has over 50-million registered email accounts, is a leading social network in Russia and also has a leading market share in multiplayer online gaming in Russian-speaking markets.

Naspers and DST have worked closely together over the past three years as co-owners of Mail.ru, and the transaction will enable them to further strengthen that relationship.

“We have known DST and its management for years and we share a similar view and approach,” Naspers’ head of internet operations, Antoine Roux, said in a statement this week. “We are excited to strengthen our partnership.

“This opportunity further expands our exposure to emerging markets and the fast-growing internet sector.”

Leading online brands

DST was founded in 2005 and is one of the largest internet companies in the Russian-speaking and Eastern European markets and one of the leading investment groups globally to exclusively focus on internet-related companies.

DST, together with its affiliate DST Global, also holds stakes in internet world leaders such as Facebook, Zynga and Groupon. It is a privately held company backed by leading international financial institutions and companies.

In April this year, DST acquired the ICQ instant messaging service from America’s AOL.

“Naspers’s strategic insight has already proven to be valuable in our partnership, and we welcome the expertise they will bring to DST,” said DST chief executive Yuri Milner. “We are delighted to announce this transaction and look forward to creating further value through our relationship.”

Naspers operates in 129 countries around the world, with the group’s most significant operations in emerging markets including South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, China, Central and Eastern Europe, India, Brazil, Russia and Thailand.

SAinfo reporter

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