Lev Leviev and his partner Vyacheslav (Yitzhak) Mirilashvili have sold their stakes in the Russian social network they founded, VKontakte, to United Capital Partners (UCP) for an undisclosed amount. Leviev owned 8% of VKontakte, and Mirilashvili owned 40%.
VKontakte is the Russian answer to Facebook with 150 million users. Russian internet group Mail.Ru, co-owned by Russia's richest man Alisher Usmanov, owns 39.9% of the company, reportedly at a company value of $1.5 billion, and has been trying to increase its stake.
In 2012 Mail.Ru handed VKontakte's CEO Pavel Durov, who owns 12% of the company, the voting rights to its stake, creating a partnership with effective majority control, but then said it still wanted to own a larger stake.
According to "East-West Digital News", a leading English-language resource on Russian digital industries and related venture activity, VKontakte CEO Durov has been accused of having secretly collaborated with FSB, giving away users’ personal data to the secret service and also blocking some users who supported the political opposition. The accusation, voiced by opposition-minded Novaya Gazeta, has galvanized opinions in Russia’s digital domain since late March. The site also reports that the US authorities and a recording industry association renewed their recriminations against VKontakte for hosting illegal content.
The Lev Leviev mentioned in this story has the same name as but is a different person to the Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL) controlling shareholder.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 18, 2013
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