Naspers invests in PE-backed Avito for $1.2 billion

Naspers Limited has acquired a majority stake in Russian online classifieds platform Avito for $1.2 billion. Avito’s backers include Baring Vostok Capital Partners.


Friday, 23rd October 2015

South African-based global internet and media company, Naspers Limited (JSE: NPN.SJ and LSE: NPSN), today announced a US$1.2bn transaction to become the largest shareholder in Avito, the leading online classifieds platform in Russia. Naspers is buying shares from existing shareholders to increase its stake from 17.4% to 67.9% on a fully diluted basis.

Naspers initially invested in Avito, Russia’s largest generalist classifieds platform, in 2013. Since then the company successfully expanded into classifieds verticals and is now also a leading player in five key verticals: General Goods, Auto, Real Estate (including Domofond), Jobs and Services. With around 35m unique monthly visitors and 8.6bn monthly page views, Avito is one of the top ten websites by traffic in Russia today. For FY2014 the company reported revenues of US$76.5m (up 76% YoY) and an EBITDA margin of 50.6%.

For Naspers, the transaction further strengthens its position as global leader in online classifieds and is a continued commitment to a very attractive business. Bob van Dijk, Naspers CEO said: “As an early investor, we are excited about the long-term prospects of Avito. The Russian ecommerce market is expected to grow significantly, with more people gaining online access. Over time, ecommerce ratios should move in line with other large countries”.

Martin Scheepbouwer, CEO of Naspers Classifieds added: “This transaction will increase our exposure to the large-scale and attractive Russian online market, to the clear market leader in online classifieds and to a talented management team”. More than 50% of Avito’s traffic is now coming from mobile devices, compared to 32% at the beginning of 2014.

Avito’s management will remain invested. “Naspers has an impressive track record and we like their approach to business. Naspers is well known for trusting and supporting the management teams of the companies they invest in. We believe this deal is mutually beneficial, and, from our perspective, we welcome Naspers’s very long-term view on Russia and especially on Avito”, says Filip Engelbert, CEO and co-founder of Avito.

The transaction is subject to approval by anti-trust authorities and by the South African Reserve Bank. While the acquisition may initially be funded from Naspers’s existing cash resources and debt facilities, the group is currently evaluating suitable long-term funding alternatives and does not envisage that this transaction will materially increase its existing debt profile in the medium term.