Sberbank, Russia’s state-controlled financial and tech behemoth, plans to increase its share of Rambler Group, a major online media and entertainment group.
Following the acquisition of a 46.5% stake in August last year, Sberbank is now preparing for an additional investment “to ensure the group’s absolute leadership in the market.”
The investment is set to total 2 billion rubles (around $28 million at the current exchange rate).
As stated by Sberbank, a fraction of this amount will be “injected into the accelerated growth of Okko’s market share to make the multimedia service the largest OTT platform in Russia as soon as in 2021.”
Money will also be poured into Rambler&Co’s media products and technologies “to strengthen its leadership in the online media industry and the market for e-tickets to events.”
In addition to buying out 6.95% directly from Rambler Group, which will increase Sberbank’s interest to 53.5%, the bank will also acquire a 1.5% stake directly from A&NN, the second shareholder of Rambler Group. Sberbank’s share in the group’s capital will thus increase to 55%.
“I am sure now is a great time to ramp up investment in media and entertainment areas of Sberbank Group,” said Tatyana Dobrokhvalova, Sberbank Senior Vice President and Head of Advertising and Media Industry.
“Rambler Group media and services are familiar to most Russians: at least once everyone has read the news on Lenta.ru, bought tickets via Rambler/Kassa ticketing service, watched a movie on Okko, or rooted for their favorite team with Championat.com,” she noted.
Okko claims its paid audience has tripled since last year’s deal with Sberbank, attributing this growth mainly to the joint projects and distribution through the Sberbank channels.
During the same period of less than a year, audience of Rambler&Co media service projects soared 20%, reaching 66 million in March 2020. Meanwhile, the number of tickets sold in 2019 through the Rambler/Kassa online ticketing office nearly doubled from the previous year reaching 24 million, according to Rambler Group CEO Rafael Abramyan.
Sberbank’s buying spree is not limited to online media. Over the past few days the company:
- completed the full acquisition of payment service provider Yandex.Money (as a part of its divorce with Yandex);
- acquired a minority stake (8.06%) in Malivar, a startup that creates virtual influencers made of artificial intelligence and computer graphics;
- was reported to discuss an investment, jointly with Mail.ru Group, in kick scooter service URent.