Another Russian IPO Attempt? Rambler Delists As Owner Gears Up

We reported back in November that Russian media investment firm Profmedia wanted to up its stake in top national portal and search site Rambler ahead of delisting the site from London’s AIM market.

Sure enough, Profmedia last week spent $12 million to increase its holding from 55.4 percent to 88.03 percent. It’s not wasting any time – Rambler held an extraordinary general meeting in London on Monday at which the delisting was approved by shareholders and Rambler is due to be privatised on New Year’s eve.

What’s the idea here? Profmedia now wants to do its own IPO in London, says Russian business paper Vedomosti (via Yakov), citing banks as saying Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse will handle the flotation. Their valuation – $2 billion to $2.5 billion.

Rambler is a successful beast itself, operating search, e-mail, media, e-commerce and more, plus newspaper, health site, parents site and tech site It claims 45 million December uniques and makes most money from display, and contextual search ads. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) nearly bought Rambler’s contextual ad business, Begun, last year, but the buy was blocked on antitrust grounds.

If Rambler’s big, Profmedia’s bigger. Its website states that it’s “the major private investor in most sectors of Russian media market” – its assets including MTV Russia, TV3, Profmedia Broadcasting and the Cinema Park movie chain. Russia’s internet population has been booming in the last couple of years, and there are still millions of Russians left to go online.

Some key (and very large) investors are consolidating the big RuNet properties. Facebook shareholder Digital Sky Technologies was reportedly planning its own IPO. But – the other big portal – scrapped its hoped-for flotation when DST and Naspers bought up more equity a year ago.