soars on London stock debut

Shares in Russian Internet company, an investor in social networking site Facebook, surged on their London debut on Friday. Shares in the largest Internet company in the Russian-speaking world were offered at 27.7 dollars each but shot up by 30 percent to 37 dollars shortly after the market opened.

The shares are only being conditionally traded at the moment and will be officially available for open trading on November 11.

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The company, which was 34-percent owned by Arsenal Football Club major shareholder Alisher Usmanov prior to the Initial Public Offering (IPO), raised 912 million dollars after selling all 32.9 million shares.

South African emerging markets media giant Naspers also owns a stake (about 39%) in the Russian company.

Naspers is a US$15-billion media company focused on internet investments in emerging markets. Apart from various internet investments in Asia, Eastern Europe, India and South America, the company owns newspaper and magazine properties in South Africa and Brazil, including pay TV networks throughout the African continent. It started out as a newspaper company in Cape Town.

Naspers announced earlier this year that it would acquire a 28.7% stake in Digital Sky Technologies (DST), the Russian internet company that has invested in Facebook, social network game creator Zynga and owns the mature instant messaging service, ICQ.

The Russian company owns 2.38 percent of Facebook and was valued at 5.71 billion dollars on flotation. All of its floated shares were covered on the first day of a two-week roadshow and ended being 20 times oversubscribed.

Almost 91 percent of the equity traded were existing shares owned by the company’s founders, management and early investors. – AFP

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