Inside money, markets, and Big Tech

This article was published on September 23, 2008


    Russian oligarchs slowly taking over Russian tech industry?

    Russian oligarchs slowly taking over Russian tech industry?


    Ernst-Jan Pfauth
    Story by

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

    Russian business daily Kommersant reports that oligarch Alexander Mamut’s investment company ANN acquired the largest mobile phone retailer in Russia, Euroset. At first hand, this doesn’t seem to be a web-related topic, yet I decided to report about it as it symbolizes the growing influence of oligarchs on the Russian tech scene. Mamut, who owns a significant stake in LiveJournal-owner SUP, is well-known as a Kremlin loyalist.

    Alexander Mamut

    Alexander Mamut

    The deal valued Euroset at an enterprise value of $1,25 billion including $850 million in debts, Kommersant said.

    Here come the oligarchs

    In the beginning of August, Alisher Usmanov announced that he wanted to buy a 20 percent stake in Russian search giant Yandex. This man is the founder of Metalloinvest (mining company, €3.3 billion a year) and owner of publishing house Kommersant.

    Gentlemen like these two keep buying stakes in Internet and tech companies. Many critics fear that at some point, these oligarchs might partner up with Putin to secure the government’s control on this booming and important industry. During the announcements of the LiveJournal and Kommersant acquisitions, storms of protest arose. All without any consequences.

    I hope these critics are mistaking, but I’m afraid that in a few years, we have to admit they had been right all along.