Mail.ru Group acquires controlling stake in car-sharing company with leadership ambitions

24 августа 2019

Mail.ru Group, an LSE-listed Russian Internet major, has just announced the acquisition of a controlling stake with a capital injection in the transportation service company YouDrive.

Proxima Capital Group, a Moscow-based investment firm, took part in the deal as a “partner,” stated Mail.ru Group; but neither the nature of this partnership nor the amount of the deal were disclosed.

The group specified, however, that “the [YouDrive] asset will not be consolidated in Mail.ru Group’s financial statements;” instead, “it will be classified as an asset held for sale.”

The transaction includes three distinct businesses:

– YouDrive, a car-sharing service;
– YouDrive Business, a short-term taxi rental;
– YouDrive Pool, a platform for renting out a car to a car-sharing service.

The company will use the raised funds to “drive organic growth.” YouDrive is betting on technology and data mining while seeking “a balance between fleet efficiency and user-friendliness,” said Boris Golikov, YouDrive co-founder and CEO.

YouDrive currently offers more than 2,500 vehicles, but has plans to “reach at least 10,000 vehicles” within a year.

Ambitious leadership goals

The deal is part of Mail.ru Group’s plan to develop O2O services in partnership with Sberbank, as was recently announced. “Car sharing allows to expand transportation offering and meet most of users’ mobility needs,” stated Boris Dobrodeev, CEO of Mail.ru Group (Russia).

“Leveraging the synergy with Mail.ru Group’s communication and O2O products will enable us to become a market leader and offer YouDrive users the best deals,” he added.

However, for the moment, YouDrive is a relatively small player on the Russian car-sharing market. Yandex.Drive, Delimobil and BelkaCar have a much larger market share, according to data cited recently by Kommersant.

Delimobil, which is owned by the international holding Mikro Kapital Group, has agressive plans to grow in Russia: after acquiring a competing service called ‘Anytime’ last year, it seeks to raise several dozens of millions of US dollars prior to a potential IPO in 2020.

Car-sharing (also spelt ‘carsharing’) consists in renting cars for short periods of time, often by the hour. The owner of the cars may be an operator or private individuals renting their own vehicle. Car-sharing should not be confused with ride-hailing (e.g. Uber) or car-pooling (e.g. BlaBlaCar).

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