Jul 14 2010

Naspers strengthens position in Russia

Published by at 7:50 am under Companies,Europe,Top Stories

Naspers announced it would pour more money into Russia for a 28.7% stake in Digital Sky Technologies (DST), one of Russia’s biggest internet companies. For the complete (unusually comprehensive) statement go here

This is what I wrote about Naspers and DST recently. Also look at a few older posts on DST by clicking on the tag “Digital Sky Technologies” in the right-hand column.

Another very nice summary of what DST is about can be found on Wikipedia. And here is DST’s portfolio of investments.

Comment: It’s looking ever more likely that the trio Naspers/DST/Tencent hailing from South Africa/Russia/China will win the race for Eastern Europe/Russia/China – and not Springer/Ringier of Germany/Switzerland. Here is something I wrote about that dual.

And then, of course, I can’t help but see the irony in all of this (as someone who had lived through the Apartheid Era in South Africa, when (for 40 years) Naspers publications reminded us almost daily how evil Russia and China were.)

More so, because Naspers is (effectively) still managed by the same people who had managed the company in the Apartheid Era (although many will deny that it is so…)

Now, the Naspers decision-makers are quite happy to gamble the future of Naspers on two Russians, money-provider Alisher Usmanov and DST CEO Yuri Milner. As a junior stakeholder.

Should anything go wrong at DST, it’ll hit Naspers twice. Once through its interest in DST and a second time through its interest in Chinese internet company Tencent (which also holds a stake in DST).

Most interesting of all, is the fact that the Naspers bosses apparently have no problem dealing with Alisher Usmanov, a Russian with his own history. He owns over 30% of DST and (in the 80s) he spent time in jail. This is what Wikipedia has to say about Usmanov, today one of the richest men in the world.

Of course, the Naspers managers swallowed all the “histories” and all the current-day risk, because they expect DST to be listed in the near future. If and when it lists (the chances are very good), it could turn into a “big-time payday” for Naspers shareholders.

…and then we can all retire happily to our wine farms.

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