Naspers in talks to up stake in Russian classifieds website Avito

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    <p>By Esha Vaish, Arno Schuetze and Emma Rumney</p> <p>STOCKHOLM/FRANKFURT/JOHANNESBURG, Jan 25 (Reuters) – South African media and e-commerce Naspers said it was in talks to increase its stake in Avito, confirming a Reuters report that the group was close to taking control of Russia’s largest classified advertising platform.</p> <p>”We can confirm that we are currently engaged in a process to potentially increase our stake in Avito,” a Naspers spokeswoman said.</p> <p>Reuters had reported that Naspers was nearing a deal to buy out the 32.1 percent held by minority shareholders in a deal that could value Avito at about $4 billion, implying Naspers could spend roughly $1.3 billion.</p> <p>Naspers had $8.7 billion in cash as of the end of September.</p> <p>The South African company has transformed itself from a newspaper publisher into an $96 billion media empire by pushing into websites and e-commerce, holding stakes in Russian internet group Mail.Ru and Chinese social network and online entertainment firm Tencent.</p> <p>Vostok New Ventures, one of Avito’s four minority investors with a 13.2 percent stake, situs judi bola resmi dan terpercaya said separately it was in talks to sell its stake in Avito to Naspers Russia Classifieds for $540 million.</p> <p>The potential deal, which it said was in the final stages and expected to be announced within the next few hours, implies an equity valuation of about $4 billion for Avito, it said.</p> <p>Avito, whose other minority shareholders include its Swedish founders and another fund called Baring Vostok, was not immediately available to comment.</p> <p>The company was launched by entrepreneurs Jonas Nordlander and Filip Engelbert in 2007 as Russia’s answer to Craigslist and today owns and operates the country’s largest online classifieds website Avito.ru.</p> <p>Online marketplaces in Russia have grown rapidly in the last few years, offering anything from food delivery and cleaning to private house construction services.</p> <p>Naspers invested in Avito in 2013 by buying a 17.4 percent stake, merging in its local classified businesses and injecting $50 million in cash.

    The transaction valued Avito at more than $570 million.</p> <p>The Cape Town-based company consequently became Avito’s majority shareholder in 2015, when it bumped up its holding to 67.9 percent, putting a worth of $2.4 billion on the target.</p> <p>The company’s marketplace today covers a range of classified categories including autos and real estate and attracts over 32 million unique visitors a month, according to its website.

    (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Stockholm and Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt and Emma Rumney in Johannesburg, additional reporting by Ekaterina Golubkova, editing by Louise Heavens)</p></div>
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