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Naspers snaps up eastern European classified site Slando from eBay

Emerging markets internet giant, Naspers has bought eastern European classified website Slando.

Slando is the creation of Michael Pennington and Simon Crookall, who also founded the massively successful online classifieds site Gumtree, which was bought by eBay in 2005.

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Pennington and Crookall sold Slando to Naspers’ investment arm, commonly known as MIH (but also known as Myriad Internet Holdings). Together with the founder’s share, Naspers will also take over eBay’s 20% stake in the company. This means Naspers has 100% control of the company.

According to Naspers-owned financial site Fin24, Slando has 11-million users in eastern Europe and Russia, with posts ranging from property rentals and sales to dating and jobs.

The Aim Group quotes a Kommersant-Ukraine newspaper as saying that Naspers is now “the most influential online classified company in the Ukraine”.

“It does not only own with Slando.com.ua one of the largest free classified websites, but also the auction portal aukro.ua and parts of emarket.ua and ria.ua,” says the company.

Naspers has not given any indication of how much it paid for Slando. With head offices in London, Slando apparently employs only 15 people.

According to South African financial paper Business Day, Naspers was taken by surprise by Pennington and Crookall’s decision to release a statement on the deal.

This is not the first time Naspers has ventured into eastern Europe either. In October 2007, the $18-billion media giant bought out Gadu-Gadu, a listed Polish instant messaging business with an estimated 8-million registered accounts (of a population of 38-million).

Shortly after this, Naspers acquired Tradus (formerly QXL and listed on the London Stock Exchange), which provides an online auction platform and internet portals in Eastern Europe. The company owns Allegro.pl, which is the leading online auction site in Poland.

The South African company has seldom shied away from making offshore acquisitions.

One of its most significant acquisitions was the 46.5% stake it acquired in Tencent Holdings limited in 2001. The Chinese company is the operator of Tencent QQ. With an estimated 702-million active users, QQ makes up the world’s largest online community.

Naspers also has a 32% interest in Mail.ru, Russian operator of Mail.ru Agent, an instant messaging service for desktop PCs and mobiles.

In November 2010, Naspers bought a nearly 30% percent stake in Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies (DST). This indirectly gave it stakes in web giants like Facebook, Groupon and Zynga.

Three months prior to the deal, Tencent also made an investment DST to the tune of US$300-million.

The company has a number of other investments in web and mobile companies from emerging markets

They include stakes in Brazilian mobile value added services company Movile and Latin American online comparison shopping service provider BuscaPe.

It also has operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Greece, Cyprus, the Netherlands, the United States, Thailand, Brazil, Poland, Ukraine, Russia,India, Turkey and China.

Naspers recently sold its stake on South African instant messaging platform MXit for around ZAR 500-million.

Slando’s founders reportedly say the company’s headquarters will remain in London but that a satellite office will be opened in the Ukraine. Slando also owns auction portals aukro.ua and rl.ua.

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