Mail.ru and Odnoklassniki.ru major owner and Russian internet investor DST (Digital Sky Technologies) is in negotiations with AOL to acquire ICQ for between $200 million and $250 million, reported newspaper Vedomosti. DST invested several hundred million dollars to acquire a stake in Facebook this year. Buying out ICQ would strengthen DST’s position as the leading Internet communications group in Russia.
ICQ, which has over 42 million active users worldwide, is the most popular instant messaging (IM) software in Russia. According to industry analysts estimates, ICQ has over 50% share of installed IM software in Russia with some 25 million downloads including own software ICQ with 6 million, branded IM clients Rambler ICQ (5 million) and Yandex ICQ (4 million), and QIP (which uses ICQ protocol) with some 10 million downloads. The above companies generate revenues from banner and contextual & search ad sales in ICQ software clients.
Mail.ru, which recently acquired online games group Astrum Online Entertainment, has 10 million registered users of its own instant messaging client software Agent@Mail.ru. It’s the second most popular IM software in Russia.