Mail.ru officially becomes the first billion-dollar Internet company in Russia.
The latest financial results released by Naspers, a South Africa-headquartered media and Internet group, reveal that it has acquired a further 2.6% stake in Mail.ru for $26 million, thus valuing the company at $1,000 million.
Naspers first bought a 30% stake in Mail.ru for $165 million from private equity investors Digital Sky Technologies and Tiger Global Management in January 2007.
Mail.ru says its monthly audience was 35.3 million in September 2007, up 20% from March 2007 . Mail.ru operates the largest free web mail service in Russia as well as blog, photo, video, dating, and other online portal services. The Mail.ru service was first released in 1998.
Update: On his interview with Moneyweb, Cobus Stofberg, Acting CEO of Naspers said about Mail.ru:
“..it’s an email. They also have a strong community, and they now take the largest market share as far as advertising online is concerned. But again there, when we bought our first stake, if you do the calculations, it was closed in January this year and then it was valued at about $550m. And it’s up now at $1bn, and those valuations were done by independent advisers to the company and to us. So we’re very happy. That increase in value is borne out by a doubling of their turnover, as well as a tripling of their bottom line.”