Russia’s leading online portal Mail.ru, whose H1 2009 financial results were reported by 43%-stake owner Naspers last week, is buying out online games group Astrum Online Entertainment in a combination of cash and own shares, Mail.ru said in the press-release. Both Mail.ru and Astrum Online are majority owned by DST (Digital Sky Technology), a major Internet investor in Russian social networks Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki.ru and recent investor in Facebook.
The merged company, which will operate under the Mail.ru brand name, shall generate revenues of over $100 million per year and become the second largest Internet company in Russia in terms of revenues after Yandex and the largest online company in Russia by a number of users and reach.
Mail.ru CEO Dmitri Grishin will become President and CEO of new Mail.ru. The top managers of Astrum Online Igor Matsanyuk and Vladimir Nikolskiy will become 1st Vice President and Vice President of new Mail.ru, respectively, Astrum Online said in the press-release.
Astrum Online was created as a result of merger of five online game developers: Astrum Nival, Nikita.Online, IT Territory, TimeZero and DJ Games. Its revenues were estimated at $50 million in 2008. These companies launched more than 30 massive multi-player online games, including The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, Legend: Legacy of the Dragons, Territory, TimeZero, Sphere, Piratia and Perfect World.
In 2009, the Russian online advertising market is expected to be $700 million or about the same as last year. The Russian online games market will be increasing 29% to $238 million in 2009.