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Mail.ru Plans $899 Million Dividend on Facebook Disposal

Mail.ru Group Ltd. (MAIL), a Russian Internet company, plans to pay $899 million in special dividends next month after reducing its stake in Facebook Inc. (FB) and exiting investments in Groupon Inc. (GRPN) and Zynga Inc. (ZNGA)

Mail.ru’s global depositary receipts rose as much as 4.6 percent, and were up 2.8 percent at $36.35 as of 8:59 a.m. in London, bringing their advance to 5.4 percent this year.

“It’s positive that the company decided to pay out almost all cash from its balance sheet to shareholders instead of potentially wasting it on acquisitions,” Konstantin Belov, an analyst at UralSib Capital in Moscow, said by telephone.

Mail.ru, controlled by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and part-owned by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. (700) and South Africa’s Naspers Ltd. (NPN), will pay investors $4.30 a share as of March 20, the Moscow-based company said today in a filing.

Net income rose 37 percent last year to 8.5 billion rubles ($278 million), Mail.ru said. Profit matched the median estimate of five analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Revenue jumped 39 percent to 21.2 billion rubles, led by paid additional services in social networks and games.

The Russian company sold a stake in Facebook for about $320 million in October, reducing its holding in Mark Zuckerberg’s social-network operator. The stake currently stands at about 0.6 percent, according to Mail.ru. It also fully disposed of 4.1 percent ownership in e-commerce operator Groupon and a 1.2 percent stake in game developer Zynga during the fourth quarter, Mail.ru said.

The Russian company said it expects revenue growth of 25 percent to 28 percent this year and a margin on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in a “low fifties” percentage. The Ebitda margin was 54.5 percent of sales in 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at ikhrennikov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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