Almaz Capital has held a $60 million first close for its debut fund, which will focus on early-stage tech opportunities in Russia and CIS. The fund’s anchor investor is Cisco.
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) today furthered its strategy of investment in the Russian technology industry with the announcement of an anchor investment in a venture capital fund that will focus on Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In collaboration with Almaz Capital Partners, Cisco has made the anchor investment in Almaz Capital Russia Fund I, L.P. (to be informally called ‘Almaz Capital / Cisco Fund I’), which has initially closed at $60 million.
Almaz Capital Partners will seek investment opportunities and manage the fund’s investments. The target companies for the fund primarily include high-growth small and medium-sized companies in the technology, media, and telecommunications sectors. Cisco will pursue investment opportunities in technology-related start-ups in the region, both directly as well as indirectly through this regional venture fund.
“Today’s announcement underscores Cisco‘s recognition of the innovation and potential that the Russia technology market offers,” said Paul Mountford, president of Emerging Markets for Cisco. “As part of its globalisation strategy, Cisco‘s intention is to strengthen links to key centers of innovation. The growing number of start-ups originating from the region is reflective of the growing importance of the technology sector to Russia’s continued socio-economic development and competitiveness.”
Cisco‘s Corporate Development organization helps the company to identify and capture market disruptions and anticipate trends around the world, and to provide a competitive advantage through early investments in burgeoning technologies. The group’s objectives align closely with Cisco‘s corporate globalization strategy, which addresses the world’s shifting boundaries and intensifying competition worldwide.
“Investing in best-in-class venture teams, such as Almaz Capital Partners in Russia, is an example of how Cisco maintains leadership in global markets in transition,” said Hilton Romanski, vice president of Global Corporate Development for Cisco. “The potential for technology innovation arising from Russia is tremendous. Our objective is to help catalyze and accelerate that potential into action that will have a positive impact on the Russian and global marketplaces.”
Cisco has already announced key direct investment commitments to the Russian market, including a stake last year in Ozon, the leading Russian online retailer.
“Russia is unique relative to other emerging venture capital markets, in that it offers both innovation and market opportunities. Like Israel, Russia has tremendous technology and innovation potential, and similar to China and India, it has a large and fast growing enterprise and consumer market,” said Peter Loukianoff, managing partner of Almaz Capital Partners. “Russia has a growing community of savvy entrepreneurs that are building companies based on both innovative technologies for global markets and proven business models for the internal Russian/CIS market.”
Overall, Cisco currently has more than $2 billion in venture capital investments under management and has been an active equity investor in major markets such as China, India, Israel and Europe, in addition to the United States. Through a combination of direct and indirect funding vehicles, Cisco is a strategic investor in start-ups and venture funds around the world and focuses on finding and investing in companies that have innovative technologies and business models.
Yoav Samet, head of Cisco‘s Corporate Development for Israel, Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia/CIS, will lead the initiative announced today.
About Almaz Capital Partners
Almaz Capital Partners is a venture capital firm that invests in Russian-related technology, media, and communications companies. The firm has offices in Silicon Valley and Moscow. Additional information about Almaz Capital Partners can be found at http://www.almazcapital.com.
About Cisco Systems
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Information about Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com. Cisco equipment in Emering Markets is supplied by Cisco Systems International BV, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cisco Systems, Inc.