Usmanov raises £349m from sale of shares in internet group

David Hellier
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RUSSIAN oligarch Alisher Usmanov, has sold a 7.4 per cent stake in internet group Mail.Ru for around $530m (£349m) to diversify his portfolio and increase the group’s liquidity.

Usmanov’s technology-related bets have set him apart from his country’s rivals and helped give him an estimated worth of $18.1bn according to Forbes. He was an early investor in social media website Facebook and controls Russia’s number two mobile operator MegaFon.

Selling the stake in Mail.Ru, which operates popular social networking sites, and email and online games platforms, will reduce Usmanov’s interest to 17.9 per cent from 25.3 per cent, and his voting interest to 58.1 per cent from 60.6 per cent.

Meanwhile Megafon, the Russian telecoms group controlled by Usmanov, who is also the second largest shareholder in Arsenal, yesterday announced fourth quarter profits up 9.3 per cent at $2.3bn. These were driven by rising sales of mobile data.

Megafon listed in London in November and since then the value of its securities have risen more than 40 per cent.

The entire IPO process was almost jettisoned after Goldman Sachs pulled out of the banking syndicate.