Naspers’ acquisition of ad firm Avito positions the Internet, e-commerce and media company for continued growth in Russia.

(Bloomberg)—Naspers Ltd., Africa’s largest company by market value, agreed to buy a majority stake in Russian Internet advertising company Avito in a $1.2 billion acquisition from other shareholders.

The media group will increase its stake to 67.9% from 17.4%, Cape Town-based Naspers said in an emailed statement on Friday. Stockholm-based Kinnevik is selling its 31% stake in Avito to Naspers for $846 million, the Swedish company said in a separate statement.

“The Russian e-commerce market is expected to grow significantly, with more people gaining online access,” Naspers CEO Bob Van Dijk said. “Over time, e-commerce ratios should move in line with other large countries.”

Naspers, the owner of newspapers and a pay-TV service in Africa, has expanded through acquisitions of stakes in early-stage technology companies in emerging markets. The company owns shareholdings of Tencent Holdings Ltd. of Hong Kong and Russia’s Mail.Ru Group Ltd. Tencent is a major investor in, No. 1 In the Internet Retailer 2015 China 500.

Van Dijk in June told analysts that the company’s e-commerce segment is steering its growth strategy. The company identified India, South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil and Turkey as its key growth markets. “E-commerce has become a major leg for our business, and we are investing further to develop that position in the time to come,” he said.


Naspers’ fiscal 2015 e-commerce revenue grew 36% to R27.8 billion ($2.3 billion), with e-retail growing 54% over the previous year.

Chief operating officer Larry Illg said the e-retail segment is one of the fastest-growing segments in Naspers’ portfolio.