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Mail.ru buys 12% of VK, increases stake to 52%

0 18 March 2014

Mail.ru Group, the internet holding owned by Russia’s richest man Alisher Usmanov, has bought Ivan Tavrin's 12% share in VK, bringing the holding’s total share in Russia’s most popular social network to 52%. 

The sum has not been revealed, but it is at least as much as Tavrin paid VK founder Pavel Durov for his shares in January. Mail.ru also offered Tavrin, who is also the general director of telecoms network Megafon, the option of buying recruitment site HeadHunter at some point in the next three months. 

Pavel Durov, who still holds the position of general director at VK, responded positively to the news.

“Mail.ru has been our rival for a long time, but as hostile forces unrelated to IT and the internet rose up, our positions grew closer. I think that in the current context it Mail.ru’s acquisition of further shares is a positive step for the company. Compared to other funds, Mail.ru has shown itself to be an amicable investor, with a real interest in developing VK.”

Durov’s reference to “other funds” is a thinly veiled jibe at UCP, which owns the remaining 48% of the network. UCP has frequently criticised Durov, who it accuses of running the company irresponsibly and preventing its monetization. It also expressed displeasure when a number of individuals previously employed in businesses connected to Usmanov took top positions at VK in January. 

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