Facebook’s New Russian Shareholder Planning Its Own IPO

imageFacebook may not be rushing to go public, but Digital Sky Technologies, the Russian investment fund that just paid $200 million for 1.96 percent of the social network, does plan to float.

CEO, co-founder and former Mail.ru chief Yuri Milner tells Slon.ru (via Yakov): “Our model … is to exit via IPO … An IPO’s timing is dependent on the state of world markets and the willingness of Digital Sky Technologies for the event … I think it will happen within the next three years.” No info on this point, but it’s quite possible DST would float in London rather than Moscow.

DST was already a major-league online investor before buying part of Facebook, holding big interests in Russia’s leading portal Mail.ru, its top social nets Odnoklassniki.ru and Vkontakte.ru (a Facebook clone), dating site Mamba, link exchange Sape.ru plus Poland’s Nasza-Klasa.pl. Does its latest buy make a Facebook IPO more or less likely? Consider the case of Mail.ru, whose own likely IPO was called off last year when DST upped its stake to a majority.

DST’s own shareholders include Arsenal football club shareholder Alisher Usmanov, Renaissance Partners, Tiger Global and Goldman Sachs, plus partners Miler, London-based Alexander Tamas and ex hedge fund boss Gregory Finger. Usmanov bumped his stake up by another two percent to 32 percent this week. Russia’s internet audience is Europe’s fourth largest, behind Germany, the UK and France, April figures from comScore said Wednesday.