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Digital Sky Technologies eyes China investment
MONACO (Reuters) - Russian Internet investment group DST Global may make its next big bet in China as it seeks to diversify beyond the United States, where it has bought sizable stakes in Facebook, Zynga and Groupon, its chief executive said.
Yuri Milner told Reuters that DST's decision to make only late-stage investments in startups meant it had to think global to avoid too narrow a focus, and he said the firm had been cultivating relationships in China.
"You cannot make an investment late stage if you just show up at the door and say: 'Here I am.' It takes time, sometimes a year, sometimes more, to basically build this relationship so that people are comfortable with you," he said.
"In China, we're building relationships."
Asked for how long DST had been doing this, Milner answered: "For a while."
He said it was possible that DST's next big deal would be in China, although he declined to forecast which of the deals the firm was working on would come to fruition first.
DST Global owns about 7.6 percent of Facebook, the world's most popular social network. Its sister company Mail.ru, which became Europe's biggest listed Internet firm when it floated on the London Stock Exchange last week, owns another 2.4 percent.
The two companies were created from the former Digital Sky Technologies, which was founded by Milner. Mail.ru now comprises the Russian operations, built around a large Russian freemail service, while DST Global is the international investment fund.
Mail.ru's major shareholders include South African media group Naspers (NPNJn.J) and Chinese Web giant Tencent Holding Ltd (0700.HK). Milner is also chairman of Mail.ru Group Plc (MAILRq.L).
Digital Sky Technologies shot to the attention of international investors in May 2009, when it bought a 2 percent stake in Facebook for $200 million, widely considered at the time to be an overpayment.
It has since increased that stake by buying shares from employees and preferred stock from the company, and Facebook's valuation has risen sharply.
Milner said DST would continue to make only late-stage investments, to avoid the complications of needing large numbers of people on the ground to spot earlier-stage startups, and the much bigger organization that that would entail.
Asked about DST interest in Twitter, he said: "Well, this is a known name, but there are other known names as well. We cannot comment on anything.
"Our universe, by definition, is quite small -- maybe 20, 30 companies globally.
(Editing by Andre Grenon)
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