Naspers-owned Prosus has sold its stake in Russia’s largest social network VK for next to nothing, according to a Bloomberg report, as it walks away from a company run by an executive under US sanctions.
- Prosus, which owned a 27% stake in VK, said in March that it would write off $769 million following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- VK sold the shares acquired from the Dutch e-commerce company to its management team at market price in a deal valued at 24.8 billion rubles ($403 million). As of December 31, 2022, Prosus commanded a voting stake of 12.3% in VK.
- Trading of VK’s shares in London was suspended and its CEO, Vladimir Kiriyenko, was sanctioned by the US treasury department. He’s the son of one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top aides, Sergei Kiriyenko, and VK is controlled by companies affiliated with Gazprom, the state-owned gas giant.
- VK has more than 49 million daily users in Russia and has expanded its dominance in the market as the government targeted foreign social media platforms during an internet crackdown.
- Last month, Prosus sold its largest Russian asset, the classified app Avito for $2.1 billion. This divestment came on the back of accusations from Ukrainian government officials alleging that the platform hosted ads for Russian military recruitment and goods looted from Ukraine – which it had denied, adding that Avito forbade listings that included weapons or illegal content.