Russia’s leading internet portal, Mail.ru, has announced plans to acquire online gaming giant Astrum Online and merge the two companies. Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) recently gave Naspers, which owns a 43% stake in Mail.ru, the go-ahead to acquire between 38% and 100% of Astrum from majority shareholder Digital Sky Technologies.
It’s unclear what the future relationship between Naspers and DST will be, but the merged company will continue under the Mail.ru name with current CEO Dmitri Grishin becoming president and CEO of the new Mail.ru. Astrum’s Igor Matsanyuk and Vladimir Nikolskiy will be vice presidents.
Completion of the deal, to be accomplished through a combination of own shares and cash, will make Mail.ru Russia’s second largest internet company in terms of total revenue, which is projected to be near USD 100 million annually. On its own, Astrum Online produced revenues of USD 50 million in 2008 through its wildly popular online gaming titles including more than thirty multi-player games.
Founded in October 2001, Mail.ru is Russia’s largest web portal offering 40 online services such as email, an internet search engine, news feeds, blogs, online dating, social networking, research tools, and more.
Valued at over USD 1 billion, Mail.ru is joint-owned by Digital Sky Technologies and Naspers. The site claims 50 million unique visitors per month while handling more than 35 million email communications.
Astrum Online Entertainment (www.astrumonline.ru)
Astrum Online Entertainment is Eastern Europe’s largest and most popular online gaming portal. It is a holding company consisting of five video game producers focusing mainly on the online gaming market. Astrum employs a strategy of offering free gameplay while generating revenue through ad sales. The company’s corporate headquarters are located in Moscow.