The Financial Times reported earlier this week from unnamed sources that DST Global, Russia’s leading Internet investment fund, took part in the third round of financing for Chinese e-commerce giant 360buy.com.
Among other participants in the deal, representing “hundreds of million dollars,” according to the Financial Times, is US retailer Walmart. The business daily reported last December on Walmart’s participation in a $500 million round of funding for the site and has further reported that the global retailer “has been rumoured to harbour ambitions to take full control of 360buy.”
In addition to its standard format e-commerce activities, 360buy.com has launched a group-buying platform to compete with Groupon’s recently launched Chinese subsidiary operated in partnership with Tencent, a prominent local Internet player.
DST Global has links with both competing players: it owns a stake in Groupon and counts Tencent among its shareholders.
A leading Internet group in Russia and abroad
In addition to 360buy.com and Groupon, DST Global has stakes in a number of leading international Internet companies. Its total investment in Facebook has reached over $500 million and its stake was estimated at 10% in late 2010 before new investments made in early 2011.
The Russian fund also invested $180 million in Zynga in December 2009. In April 2010, DST led a $135 million investment round in Groupon and acquired ICQ from AOL for $187.5 million.
In September 2010, DST rebranded itself, giving its operational wing the name Mail.ru Group and calling its investment fund DST Global. Mail.ru Group includes a host of Russian-language sites as well as a fraction of DST’s stakes in international sites, including a stake in Facebook. EWDN has reported on DST’s role as the dominant player on the Russian and Internet scene and a leader on markets in neighboring countries.
In October 2010, Mail.ru Group began trading on the London Stock Exchange. The offering was oversubscribed by a factor of 20. This triumphant IPO provided the group with $912 million in liquidity and advanced its valuation to $5.71 billion based on the initial price. The IPO established Mail.ru Group as Europe’s largest listed Internet-related business.
DST’s second fund already in Groupon
DST owners Alisher Usmanov and Yuri Milner have recently launched a second fund, DST Global II, with a majority of Western subscribers, reported Russian business daily Vedomosti citing sources that wished to remain anonymous. The new fund is said to have already acquired an additional 5% stake in Groupon and could soon invest $50 million in Spotify, the European online music service, giving the company a value of $1 billion.
It remains unclear, however, whether the investment in 360buy.com comes from DST’s first or second fund.