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Naspers to Buy Stake in Russia’s Largest Online Classifieds Site

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March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Naspers Ltd, Africa’s largest media group, will buy a 19 percent stake in Russia’s largest online classifieds site Avito.ru and invest $50 million to fund the company’s expansion.

Naspers, which also owns a 29 percent stake in Russian social networking and gaming site Mail.ru Group Ltd., will merge its smaller Russian classifieds websites Slando.ru and OLX.ru with Avito and fund a push into auto and real estate advertising, Avito said today in a statement.

Avito has 33 million monthly unique users, while Slando has 18 million and OLX “significantly less”, Avito said in an e-mailed response to questions. Avito generated revenue of $30 million last year, the company said.

Avito’s Swedish founders Jonas Nordlander and Filip Engelbert will own about 15 percent of the company after the deal with Cape Town-based Naspers is completed, Avito said. Other shareholders include private equity companies Kinnevik, based in Stockholm, U.S.-based Accel Partners and Baring Vostok, which took part in a round of fundraising last year.

“From a Naspers perspective the rationale for this transaction was to create a stronger market player in the high-growth Russian classifieds market, in which we’ll have a significant minority stake,” Naspers spokeswoman Meloy Horn said by e-mail. “Even though classifieds is still a young and unprofitable segment in Russia, we believe the sector offers opportunity.” Horn declined to comment on how much Naspers had paid for its stake.

Naspers is a holding company that provides television and internet services in Africa. It owns 34 percent of Hong Kong-based Tencent Holdings Ltd. alongside the stake in Mail.ru.

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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