Mail.Ru Buys Rocket Internet-Backed Foodpanda’s Russian Unit

  • Acquisition allows Foodpanda to focus on Asia, Middle East
  • Mail.ru faced growth slowdown in online games, social networks

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s internet company, Mail.ru Group Ltd., has agreed to buy Rocket Internet SE-backed Foodpanda’s online food-delivery business in Russia for $100 million.

The acquisition of Foodpanda’s Russian unit Delivery Club will help Mail.ru expand beyond social networks and games, into mobile e-commerce, the company said in a statement Thursday. With 20,000 orders per day, Delivery Club is a leading player in the growing food-delivery market in Russia, it said.

Mail.ru, which counts China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. as a shareholder, saw third-quarter sales growth slowing to 5 percent after revenue from online games and payments in social networks dropped. The company sees e-commerce as a way to drive future growth.

The sale of the Russian business "allows Foodpanda to focus more on the expansion in the Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European markets," Chief Executive Officer and founder, Ralf Wenzel said in a statement.

Berlin-based Rocket Internet, which holds dozens of startups in areas including food delivery, furniture and fashion, has seen its stock price cut in half since it went public in October 2014 as some of its investments faltered and others were slow to reduce losses. Analysts have criticized the company’s reporting for a lack of transparency and questioned its ability to wring profitable growth out of companies that operate in commodity sectors in unproven markets.

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