Mail.ru Set for March High on Facebook Stake Sale: Moscow Mover

Mail.ru Group Ltd. headed for the highest level in almost six months as the Russian Internet company sold its remaining stake in Facebook Inc. for more than $525 million, boosting dividend expectations.

Mail.ru, which is controlled by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, jumped as much as 4.7 percent and traded up 2.7 percent at $34.81 by 9:49 a.m. in London, the highest since March 12 on a closing basis. The volume of shares traded was equivalent to about 61 percent of the three-month daily average.

Moscow-based Mail.ru sold 14.2 million Facebook shares in July and August, according to a statement today. Facebook has surged 57 percent this year, topping the price at its initial public offering last year and valuing the company at $102 billion. Mail.ru had already divested part of its Facebook holding and the lock-up period for the remaining holding expired in May.

“The market is expecting that Mail.ru will pay dividends from this cash,” Konstantin Chernyshev, an analyst at UralSib Capital, said by phone from Moscow.

Mail.ru also reported a 28 percent increase in first-half sales today, driven by growth in online advertising and user spending in social networks and games. The company raised its full-year sales growth target to 27 percent to 29 percent from an earlier range of 25 percent to 28 percent.

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