Listed internet and media company, Naspers has announced a US$1.2 billion (R16 billion) transaction to become the largest shareholder in Avito, an online classifieds platform in Russia.
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. It has since 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 10 websites by traffic in Russia, Naspers said.
For FY2014 the company reported revenues of US$76.5m (up 76% YoY) and an EBITDA margin of 50.6%.
“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.
“This transaction will increase our exposure to the large-scale and attractive Russian online market, to the clear market leader in online classifieds and to a talented management team”. More than 50% of Avito’s traffic is now coming from mobile devices, compared to 32% at the beginning of 2014,” added Martin Scheepbouwer, CEO of Naspers Classifieds.
Avito’s management will remain invested, while the transaction is subject to approval by anti-trust authorities and by the South African Reserve Bank.