London float for Russian internet firm

A Russian internet service provider part-owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov is floating on the London market to raise an estimated $500m-$750m (£314.7m-£472.1m).

Usmanov and other investors in Group plan to offer up to 15 per cent of the group’s share capital, giving it a market value of about $5bn, a source close to the deal said.

Usmanov owns an undisclosed stake in along with shareholders including South Africa’s Naspers, the company’s management team, Chinese internet group Ten Cent and Goldman Sachs. Usmanov and other investors are understood to be keen to make shares in the company more widely available in a major European financial market such as London.

Chairman Yuri Milner said: “We are proud to have reached this important milestone in our company’s development.” is the biggest internet company in high-growth Russian-speaking internet markets, reaching about 70 per cent of Russian internet users per month, and claims to be the world’s seventh biggest internet business, based on page views. The group, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, runs two of the three biggest Russian language online social networking sites as well as instant messaging, email and online gaming services.

It also owns a 2.38 per cent stake in Facebook and small minority interests in several other Russian and international internet firms. The group said it was keen to cash in on the potential growth offered by the more than 250m Russian speakers worldwide.

Chief executive Dmitry Grishin said: “We believe we are well-positioned to benefit from the expected growth of the Russian internet advertising market.”

The listing is expected to take place in London Stock Exchange before the end of this year.