Mail.ru share price up as Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov takes full stake in “Russian Facebook” VKontakte for $1.47 billion

 
Lynsey Barber
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Usmanov takes control of Russian social network VK (Source: Getty)

Moscow-based internet company Mail.ru has bought a remaining 48 per cent stake in the social network VKontakte, Russia's answer to Facebook, for $1.47bn (£909m) taking full ownership of the business.

Mail.ru said in addition to the sale, all legal action among itself, United Capital Partners which sold the stake and VK founder Pavel Durov had now been dropped.

The three parties were involved in a number of disputes over the ownership of VK.

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov is the largest shareholder in Mail.ru through USM Holdings and South African media company Naspers and China's Tencent are also major shareholders in Mail.ru.

Russia's richest person according to Forbes, Usmanov is the second largest shareholder in Arsenal football club and has a number of tech investments through USM including Spotify, Airbnb and soon-to-list Alibaba.

All in, Mail.ru’s total investment in VK comes to $2.07bn. The latest deal was made in cash, including $585m funded by an 11.5 per cent fixed rate four year loan from Gazprombank.

Mail.ru Group chief Dmitry Grishin said: “The consolidation of 100 per cent of VK and the termination of all outstanding shareholder disputes will allow focus on the product and its further development. We respect the successful results driven by VK's team and do not plan any significant changes in the team or the product itself. Moreover, we are ready to give the current team an opportunity to realize their plans and initiatives."

Mail.ru reaches 96 per cent of Russian internet users every month according to Comscore and owns the country’s three largest social networks VK- the second largest social network in Europe behind Facebook- Odnoklassniki (OK) and Moi Mir (My World).

Mail.ru shares rose higher this morning, up by more than four per cent.

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