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Sep 26 2008

Naspers’ roundabout way into big-time search

Published by at 10:38 pm under Companies

First published on my old blog on 5/8/2008.  

If this post on Russian blog Quintura.com is anything to go by, Naspers’ new “partner” in Russian portal Mail.ru could just turn out to be a lucky break for Naspers in Russia.

After acquiring a minority stake in Digital Sky Technologies (DST), Alisher Usmanov is now apparently trying to buy a 10% – 20% stake in Russia’s leading search engine Yandex. DST is the majority owner of Russian portal Mail.ru (in which Naspers holds 32%), and Yandex is Europe’s third most used search engine. 

Should Usmanov be successful with his bid for a stake in Yandex, and assuming Koos and Alisher strike up a good working relationship (which isn’t self-evident, given Usmanov’s history), Naspers might just be edging closer to an involvement in Russia’s most successful search engine. Now, would that be something? 

For an interesting portrait of Usmanov, check Wikipedia out.

And here a shortened version of Quintura’s post (dated 4 August):

“Alisher Usmanov, founder of Metalloinvest holding and owner of Kommersant publishing house, is in the process of becoming a major investor in Russia’s leading search engine Yandex, the Russian business daily Vedomosti reported. 

According to the newspaper, Usmanov is negotiating to buy 10%-20% in Yandex from the founding managers of the company, as well as new shares in the upcoming IPO on NASDAQ. Based on the company’s expected valuation of about $5 billion, the stake could be worth $1 billion. 

The investment banks Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Renaissance Capital are managing the Yandex IPO.

In 2007 Yandex generated revenue of $167 million. Yandex accounted for 54% of all search traffic in Russia in Q1 2008, ahead of Google (19%) and Rambler (14%). In May 2008 Comscore ranked Yandex the third most popular search property in Europe with 528 million monthly searches.”

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