SAN FRANCISCO Dec 14 The billionaire Russian entrepreneur behind Russia's biggest vodka maker has paid $3 million to acquire the vodka.com domain, part of a bid to expand into the U.S. market, a broker said on Thursday.
Sedo.com, the Web domain brokering unit that is part of Germany's United Internet AG (UTDI.DE), said it had acted as the sales agent in the deal.
Conglomerate Russian Standard Co., controlled by Roustam Tariko, paid $3 million to an undisclosed seller in a deal completed Dec. 4, according to a Sedo.com spokesman. A New York-based spokeswoman for Russian Standard confirmed the $3 million price tag.
Russian Standard entered the U.S. market in September 2005 with its Imperia brand. The recipe for Imperia is said to have been discovered by 19th century Russian scientist Dimitri Mendeleev, inventor of chemistry's periodic table of elements.
Russian Standard Co. controls not only two-thirds of the sales of premium vodka in Russia, but also owns Russian Standard Bank, the country's largest private bank.
Vodka.com's price tag is among the highest ever revealed for a generic Web domain. In May, diamond.com reportedly sold for $7.5 million to jewelry retailer Ice.com. Business.com sold for $7.5 million in 1999.
Earlier this year, a source told Reuters that Sex.com had sold for around $12 million to a Boston-based company called Escom LLC, although the exact figure has never been disclosed.