MOSCOW Jan 24 Pavel Durov, founder of Russia's
biggest social network, said he sold his stake in VKontakte
(www.vk.com) to an ally of tycoon Alisher Usmanov, the site's
second-largest shareholder, who has long wanted to secure
Durov sold his 12 percent stake to Ivan Tavrin, the chief
executive officer of Russian mobile phone operator Megafon
, which Usmanov controls, Durov said on his VK page on
This means that Usmanov and his allies now control around 52
percent of the company.
According to business daily Vedomosti, the deal took place
last month and was probably based on a valuation of $3
billion-$4 billion for all of VK, Russia's answer to Facebook
Tavrin could not immediately be reached for comment.
VKontakte's press office did not respond to an emailed request
VK is 39.9 percent owned by Russian internet group Mail.Ru
, which is part owned by Usmanov and has long been
seeking to increase its stake to gain control of the network of
more than 100 million users.
In 2012, Mail.Ru handed Durov the voting rights to its
stake, creating a partnership with effective majority control,
but then said it still wanted to own a larger stake.
In April 2013, however, Russian investment fund United
Capital Partners (UCP) bought out two other co-founders of
VKontakte, becoming its biggest shareholder with a stake of 48
At the time, VK said Durov had no intention of selling his
On Friday, Durov said his influence at VK would continue
despite the sale.
"This change will hardly impact the governance of VKontakte
- its board of directors has been paying attention to my opinion
not because I own a stake but because I created this network and
understand its deep mechanisms," Durov said.
UCP on Friday confirmed the change in ownership.