South Africa’s Naspers Aims at Full Control of Russian Ad Platform Avito

Russia’s largest classified advertising platform Avito could soon be completely sold to South Africa’s Naspers, with the media and internet group interested in buying the remaining 32 percent it does not already own, two sources told Reuters.

The deal could be announced as soon as Monday but details of the buyout were still being negotiated on Friday, the people close to the situation said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the talks were confidential.

Cape Town-based Naspers bumped up its holding in Avito to 67.9 percent from 17.4 percent in 2015, valuing the company at about $2.4 billion then.

One of Avito’s minority shareholders, Vostok New Ventures, pegged the value of its 13.2 percent stake at about $600 million as of June 30, 2018, valuing the entire company at about $4.55 billion. Other minority shareholders include the founders and another fund called Baring Vostok.

One of Reuters’ sources said that the deal could see Avito valued at more than $4 billion, indicating that Naspers might spend over $1.3 billion buying out minority investors.

Avito was launched by Swedish 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

Over the past couple of years, online marketplaces in Russia have grown rapidly, offering anything from food delivery and cleaning to private house construction services. Since Naspers invested in Avito in 2013, it has expanded across a range of classified categories including autos and real estate. Its marketplace today attracts over 32 million unique visitors a month, according to its website.