JSE-listed global internet and media firm Naspers on Friday announced a $1.2 billion (R16 billion) deal to become the largest shareholder in Avito, an online classifieds platform in Russia. By Staff Writer
Naspers is buying shares from existing shareholders to increase its stake from 17.4% to 67.9% on a fully diluted basis.
Naspers initially invested in Avito, Russia’s largest generalist classifieds platform, in 2013.
Since then the company successfully expanded into classifieds verticals and is now also a leading player in five key verticals: General Goods, Auto, Real Estate (including Domofond), Jobs and Services.
With around 35 million unique monthly visitors and 8.6 billion monthly page views, Avito is one of the top ten websites by traffic in Russia today.
“As an early investor, we are excited about the long-term prospects of Avito. The Russian ecommerce market is expected to grow significantly, with more people gaining online access. Over time, ecommerce ratios should move in line with other large countries,” said Bob van Dijk, Naspers CEO.
Avito’s management will remain invested.
“Naspers has an impressive track record and we like their approach to business. Naspers is well known for trusting and supporting the management teams of the companies they invest in. We believe this deal is mutually beneficial, and, from our perspective, we welcome Naspers’s very long-term view on Russia and especially on Avito”, says Filip Engelbert, CEO and co-founder of Avito.
The transaction is subject to approval by anti-trust authorities and by the South African Reserve Bank.
While the acquisition may initially be funded from Naspers’s existing cash resources and debt facilities, the group is currently evaluating suitable long-term funding alternatives and does not envisage that this transaction will materially increase its existing debt profile in the medium term.