Mail.ru, one of the largest free email services on Russia's web domain, has cut its stakes in Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga. As of October 30th, the Russian firm had a 0.75 percent stake in Facebook, 4.12 percent in Groupon, and 1.17 percent in Zynga.
These figures have since been reduced to 0.52 percent in Facebook, 0.84 percent in daily-deal website Groupon, and 0.16 percent in game-maker Zynga.
Anastasia Obukhova, an analyst with VTB Capital in Moscow, speculates this move could raise between US$200 million and US$250 million in sales. Mail.ru, partly owned by metals tycoon Alisher Usmanov, sold 16 million Facebook shares worth approximately US$370 million as of October 30th, on top of another transaction that's part of Facebook's IPO said to be worth more than US$700 million.
"We've always been very clear that Groupon, Zynga and Facebook, positioned inside of Mail, are financial assets, not strategic ones", adds Matthew Hammond, an investor relations director at Mail.ru Group.
It's likely the Russian Internet giant was looking for ways to satiate its business associates. Recent sales of its stakes in these U.S. Internet firms were followed by a hefty dividend payout to its shareholders.