Head of Russian social network VK withdraws resignation

MOSCOW, April 3 Thu Apr 3, 2014 12:23pm EDT

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MOSCOW, April 3 (Reuters) - The founder of Russia's biggest social networking site VKontakte withdrew his resignation on Thursday, just two days after announcing he was giving up the chief executive post, saying his departure would have threatened the company's future.

"I'm not going anywhere - and remain the CEO of VKontakte," Pavel Durov wrote on his VKontakte account.

Durov said on April 1 he was stepping down because his freedom in running the company had been reduced by a shareholder change. It was not clear what change he was referring to, but the statement followed months of wrangling between VKontakte shareholders.

"In recent days, I was able to learn a lot about what might happen to VKontakte after my departure," Durov said. "And I clearly saw that my resignation at this difficult time would have been a betrayal of all that we have been defending for the last seven years. It would have been a very easy and very destructive way."

Durov in January sold his 12 percent holding in the company - Russia's answer to Facebook Inc - to Ivan Tavrin, chief executive of Russian mobile phone operator Megafon.

Internet group Mail.Ru, partly owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, then bought the shares from Tavrin, increasing its stake in VKontakte to 52 percent.

Nafisa Nasyrova, a spokeswoman for Russian investment fund United Capital Partners, which owns the other 48 percent of VKontakte, said the investor had received a letter from Durov revoking his resignation. She added the board of VK was meeting on Thursday to discuss candidates for his replacement.

Mail.Ru and its main shareholder USM declined comment.

Separately a London-based music industry federation said on Thursday three of the world's top record companies were suing VKontakte for facilitating copyright piracy. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Anastasia Teterevleva; Editing by David Holmes)

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