Naspers, the South African conglomerate that invested in China’s Tencent among others, is upping its stake in Russia-based Avito, the third largest classifieds site in the world, by way of a $1.2 billion investment.
The firm announced that it will increase its existing 17.4 percent ownership to a majority 67.9 holding through the acquisition of shares from existing investors. Avito claims more than 35 million monthly visitors, with over half of its traffic coming from mobile devices. The site, which has 32 million active listings and adds 500,000 new ones each day, supercharged its presence in Russian when it merged with Slando.ru and OLX.ru — two Naspers-backed rivals — in 2013.
Naspers said today’s news will bolster its online classifieds business, which includes OLX in South America and mobile-focused startup Letgo in the U.S., with major growth predicted as online buying becomes increasingly mainstream in Russia.
“As an early investor, we are excited about the long-term prospects of Avito. The Russian e-commerce market is expected to grow significantly, with more people gaining online access. Over time, e-commerce ratios should move in line with other large countries,” Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk said in a statement.
Deezer was confirmed as a European unicorn — or Eurocorn, as we’ve become accustomed to calling them — last week when it priced its IPO, and now we have another.