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About Naspers and Usmanov

I wonder, has anyone in South Africa noticed (yet) that Naspers is in bed with the controversial Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov?

Fair enough, Naspers was there first. Usmanov only came last week. But, whether the two ended up in bed by choice, or by co-incidence doesn't matter now.

All I'm saying, is: Suddenly Naspers has a link to the Arsenal Football Club, the "unhappy" diamond dealings between Usmanov and De Beers, and a lot more. Because, you always sleep with everyone your partner has slept with before.

For the complete list of what Usmanov has been up to, go to Wikipedia, or use the link I provided in the story below.

* Also read what I wrote on 27 July on Usmanov and Naspers under the title "Shares change hands at Russian site".
5.8.08 14:00


Naspers' roundabout way into big-time search

If this post by a Russian called Yakov on his blog at is anything to go by, Naspers' new "partner" in the project could just turn out to be a lucky break for Naspers in Russia.

After acquiring a minority stake in Digital Sky Technologies (DST), majority owner of Russian portal (in which Naspers holds 32%) recently, Alisher Usmanov is now apparently trying to buy a 10% - 20% share in Russia's leading search engine Yandex.

Should that happen and assuming Koos and Alisher strike up a good working relationship, Naspers could just be edging closer to an involvement in Russia's most successful search engine, which is also Europe's third most used search engine.

Now, would that be something?

Usmanov is not just anyone. (That's why I think Koos would enjoy his company.) For a nice portrait of Usmanov, check Wikipedia out here:

And here a shortened version of Yakov's post (dated 4 August):

"Alisher Usmanov, founder of Metalloinvest holding and owner of Kommersant publishing house, is in the process of becoming a major investor in Russia's leading search engine Yandex, the Russian business daily Vedomosti reported.

According to the newspaper, Usmanov is negotiating to buy 10%-20% in Yandex from the founding managers of the company, as well as new shares in the upcoming IPO on NASDAQ. Based on the company’s expected valuation of about $5 billion, the stake could be worth $1 billion.

The investment banks Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Renaissance Capital are managing the Yandex IPO.

In 2007 Yandex generated revenue of $167 million. Yandex accounted for 54% of all search traffic in Russia in Q1 2008, ahead of Google (19%) and Rambler (14%). In May 2008 Comscore ranked Yandex the third most popular search property in Europe with 528 million monthly searches."
5.8.08 10:13

Robert Hersov takes another financial knock

For London-based Robert Hersov, member of the well-known Hersov family of Anglovaal fame in South Africa, the year 2008 is slowly turning into an annus horribilis as far as his business activities in Germany are concerned.

After pocketing a 30 million Euro loss in April this year from an investment he had made in the German airline Air Berlin a short four months before, a Berlin court gave a ruling today which effectively forces Hersov to pocket another 18 million Euro loss from a second, unrelated business deal.

The court case was about a deal involving 3 million shares in a German listed company called Curanum. (Hersov was ordered to fork out just over 29 million Euro for shares only worth 11 million Euro at close of trade today.)

That brings his (realised and unrealised) losses in Germany this year to 48 million Euro (about R570 million) - probably enough to give even a Hersov a sleepless night or two. Definitely enough to buy a handful of prime wine farms in the Boland.

And, to make matters worse, these deals were not really Hersov's, but deals made by a "good friend", the 31-year-old Lars Windhorst, a German with a long history of bad business deals. Hersov had appointed him to lead Vatas Holding, a subsidiary of Hersov's UK-based investment vehicle Sapinda, which he started in 1999, after completing a stint at Italian businessman-turned-politician Berlusconi's media empire. And Vatas was the principle in both deals.

But, like with all good stories, this one also has a positive ending: Had Hersov not sold his Air Berlin stake in April, his loss would now have been double the realised 30 million Euro.
1.8.08 18:47

Anglo's Tarmac still for sale

According to Cynthia Carroll, chief executive of Anglo American, said in London yesterday the sale of Tarmac, its UK-based aggregates and asphalt company, was still on the cards - the process has just been delayed by the credit crisis.

When Tarmac was put up for sale 12 months ago, analysts estimated it could fetch more than $6 billion.

Anglo American, the world's fourth-biggest miner, is expecting resource-hungry China to continue to hold up global demand as rising output and record prices for iron ore and copper propelled its profits nearly 15 per cent higher.

Pre-tax profits rose from $4.9 billion in the first six months of 2007 to $6.4 billion in the same period this year.

The base metals division, including copper, zinc and nickel, was the biggest contributor to group operating profit, accounting for 41 per cent, followed by the Anglo Platinum unit, making up 25 per cent.

Carroll said the company's $45 billion pipeline of new and expansion projects, including $15 billion of approved projects, had risen by $3 billion since February.

Kumba Iron Ore, 64 per cent owned by Anglo, posted a 75 per cent increase in first-half earnings last week. Anglo also owns 45 per cent of De Beers, the world's biggest diamond supplier, whose first-half sales increased by 10 per cent to $3.3 billion.
1.8.08 10:49

Diamonds are forever...and now also exclusive

First, De Beers teamed up with Louis Vuitton for a foothold in retail and now they upped their game another notch.

Look at this and smile. The report was posted on the National Jeweler Network site on 30 July.

"Forevermark, a separately managed division of the De Beers Group (formerly known as De Beers Group Marketing) announced the opening of the first Forevermark diamond-grading laboratories this week.

The two labs, located in Antwerp, Belgium and Maidenhead in the United Kingdom, will grade only diamonds meeting Forevermark standards.

Graded diamonds will be inscribed with the Forevermark icon and an identification number.

To be considered a Forevemark diamond, stones must be at least 0.18 carat, SI2 clarity, J color and have a cut rated "good."

Forevemark diamonds are available only at selected jewelers and De Beers' retail stores.

In a statement Forevermark CEO Francois Delage said: "By offering Forevermark diamantaires the opportunity to have their Forevermark diamonds accompanied by Forevermark grading reports, we are meeting the needs of consumers, jewelers and diamantaires."
31.7.08 20:19

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