Digital Sky Technologies (DST), the majority owner of Russian’s Mail.ru, is one of three major firms competing to buy Czech search site Seznam, reports paidContent, citing Russian newspaper Financni Novini.
Seznam – which reportedly holds a 62% share of the Czech Republic’s search market next to Google’s 29% – has an asking price of USD850m. A deal between DST and Seznam would mark a major consolidation in the Eastern European internet market.
Other companies in the running to acquire Seznam are private equity firms Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus. Each firm has holdings in the technology and telecoms sectors but may be unable to complete a deal due to the credit crunch. Warburg owns, as part of its portfolio, Centrum.cz – the second largest Czech internet portal – while Apax has holdings in international sites such as Yell.com.
The DST approach comes just one week after it upped its stake in Russian news and blog portal Mail.ru. The Russian internet investment group paid USD300m to secure an extra 15% in Mail.ru. This pushed the company’s stake to a total of 50.6%, despite reportedly selling part of its holding to Alisher Usmanov, owner of the Kommersant publishing house, to finance the deal.