MOSCOW. April 17 (Interfax) - United Capital Partners (UCP), an investment fund controlled by Ilya Scherbovich, has bought 48% of the social networking site Vkontakte from its co-founder Vyacheslav Mirilashvili and CFO Lev Leviev, UCP told Interfax.
The Mirilashvili family owned around 40% and Leviev 8% of Vkontakte.
The cost of the deal was nit disclosed.
The networking site's owners valued the site ay $2.75 billion in the context of negotiations with Mail.ru. Analysts valued Vkontakte at $2 billion.
On that basis the purchase of the 48% could have set UCP back $0.96 billion-$1.32 billion.
Mirilashvili and Leviev will have to make an offer to current shareholders before selling their stakes in Vkontakte. A source close to the network's shareholders told Interfax that an offer had not yet been made.
Mail.ru Group owns 39.9% of Vkontakte. (Alisher Usmanov's USM Holdings owns 17.9% issued shares and 58.1% voting shares in Mail.ru.) The head of Vkontakte, Pavel Durov, owns 12%. Mirilashvili and Leviev own the rest of the social networking site.
Mail.ru, then USM expressed an interest in increasing their stake in Vkontakte, but the sides could not agree on a price.
USM Advisors told Interfax that Mirilashvili and Leviev had not made an offer to buy the company out, USM declined further comment. "We don't comment on the sale of other people's property," it said.
The head of USM Advisors, Vladimir Streshinsky, said UCP did not act on behalf of USM. He said USM was still interested in acquiring a stake in Vkontakte. Asked whether USM was currently in talks, he said: "No."
USM Group placed 7.4% of Mail.ru Group's shares in February and raised $532 million. Analysts said at the time that the group probably needed cash to buy shares in Vkontakte. USM officially said only that the purpose of the sale was to return some of the investment in Mail.ru.
Vkontakte is Russia's biggest networking site with more than 42 million active users. LLC V Kontakte is wholly owned by Cyprus-based VK.Com Holdings Ltd., according to the SPARK-Interfax database. Its revenue to Russian Accounting Standards (RAS) grew 41.7% in 2011 to 3.29 billion rubles and net profit 13.9% to 516.5 million rubles.
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