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Prosus to exit shareholding in Russian ads business

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Naspers unit Prosus is looking to sell its shareholding in Russian classifieds business Avito.

The decision follows Russia’s invasion of its neighbour Ukraine in February.

In a statement, Prosus says: “On 25 March 2022, we announced the separation of the Russian classifieds business Avito from our OLX Group.

“Following completion of this operational separation, Prosus has now decided to exit the Russian business. We have started the search for an appropriate buyer for our shares in Avito.”

Avito is a Russian classified advertisements website with sections devoted to general goods for sale, jobs, real estate, personals, cars for sale and services. It is one of the most popular classifieds sites in Russia.

The company was founded in 2007 in Moscow.

In 2013, Avito merged with its Russians competitors Slando.ru and OLX.ru, to become the Russian market leader for classified ads, and was later purchased by Naspers for $1.2 billion.

In January 2019, Naspers took full control of Avito after it spent $1.16 billion to buy 29.1% of company.

Following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, in March, Prosus also announced it was writing down a $700 million (R10.7 billion) stake in Russia’s biggest internet firm VK Group.

In a statement about the war in Ukraine in March, Naspers said: “We are appalled by the war in Ukraine and highly concerned for everyone affected. We hope that a diplomatic solution can be found to de-escalate the situation as quickly as possible.

“Our OLX Europe business employs 350 people in Ukraine and their safety is of paramount importance. We are in close contact with our Ukrainian employees and we are taking all appropriate action to support them.

“We have arranged accommodation for employees and their families wishing to relocate away from the east of Ukraine and into the west, and also to leave Ukraine, where this is possible. Colleagues in neighbouring countries are offering their own support to Ukraine-based employees and their families.

“We have also advanced salaries and have offered additional financial support to those in need. Additionally, OLX Europe has committed $350 000 ($1 000 for every OLX Ukraine employee) to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is providing humanitarian aid at this time to the local communities in Ukraine.

“We also have more than 4 000 employees in Russia working for our locally-run Russian classifieds business Avito. Avito is supporting all of its team through this uncertain time.

“At this stage, we cannot speculate on the longer-term implications for our operations and investments. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.”

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