Facebook's Russian investor gets $388 million infusion

A South African media group is taking nearly a 30 percent stake in Digital Sky Technologies, which has massively invested in Net companies such as Facebook.

Naspers, a South African international media group, says one of its subsidiaries is taking a nearly 30 percent stake in Digital Sky Technologies.

Russia-based DST has made a splash in Silicon Valley by investing massive gobs of money in high-profile, social-focused U.S. Internet companies, such as Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga.

Both Naspers and DST are already close, as co-owners of Mail.ru, a large Russian Web firm with e-mail, social-networking, gaming, and entertainment businesses.

Naspers said it will be contributing its 39.3 percent stake in Mail.ru into DST, as well as investing $388 million in cash in it.

In April, another international multimedia giant, China's Tencent, invested $300 million in DST (PDF), giving it just over a 10 percent stake in it.

And, drum roll...Naspers owns 35 percent of Tencent.

It's not clear what to make of this developing international spiderweb of digital and media companies, except to ask: what will DST do with all that new money now?

Until all is revealed, here is an interview I did at the seventh D: All Things Digital conference about a year ago with DST President Alexander Tamas and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg about the firm's aspirations:

And here's the official press release:

Naspers makes strategic investment in Digital Sky Technologies
DST to assume full control of Mail.ru upon share swap with Naspers
Johannesburg and Moscow, 14 July 2010-Naspers Limited, the broad based international media group, and Digital Sky Technologies Limited, one of the largest internet companies in the Russian-speaking markets, announces today that Naspers's subsidiary Myriad International Holdings B.V. will take a 28,7% stake in DST. The transaction will be effected by Naspers contributing its 39,3% stake in Mail.ru into DST and investing US$388m in cash. Concurrently, Mail.ru management and other minorities will also convert their shares into DST.
Upon the close of this transaction, DST will own over 99,9% of Mail.ru. Mail.ru is the leading communication and entertainment platform in the Russian-speaking internet world, with over 50m registered email accounts, leading market share in MMO games and one of the leading social networks in Russia.
Naspers and DST have worked closely together over the past three years as co-owners of Mail.ru and today's transaction will enable them to further strengthen that relationship.
Chief Executive Officer of DST, Yuri Milner, said, "Naspers's strategic insight has already proven to be valuable in our partnership and we welcome the expertise they will bring to DST. We are delighted to this transaction and look forward to creating further value through our relationship."
Antonie Roux, head of Naspers's internet operations, commented: "We have known DST and its management for years and we share a similar view and approach. We are excited to strengthen our partnership. This opportunity further expands our exposure to emerging markets and the fast-growing internet sector."
 

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