Yuri Milner looks to invest in Indian start-ups

Through Mail.Ru, Milner has a stake in Zynga, Twitter, Spotify, ZocDoc, Groupon, 360Buy.com, Planet Labs and Alibaba. Source: Kommersant

Through Mail.Ru, Milner has a stake in Zynga, Twitter, Spotify, ZocDoc, Groupon, 360Buy.com, Planet Labs and Alibaba. Source: Kommersant

The Russian investor is likely to make investments of about $5 million each in Olacabs and Mumbai-based start-up Housing.com, in his personal capacity, according to an Indian daily.

Yuri Milner, the Russian tycoon, who is the co-founder of Mail.ru group, is looking to invest in Indian start-ups, the Times of India reported on its website. The paper cited sources as saying that Milner is expected to make investments of about $5 million each in Olacabs and Mumbai-based start-up Housing.com, in his personal capacity.

Milner's investment is expected to be through the primary route but the transaction with Ola and Housing may involve some secondary sale of shares as well by existing investors, the paper sited sources as saying.

Ola Cabs is a fleet taxi operator founded by Bhavish Aggarwal, a 2008 graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, who started the firm, after working for Microsoft for two years. Ola operates in Mumbai and Delhi. Housing.com is a Mumbai-based real estate start-up that was co-founded by Advitiya Sharma in 2012 and is one of the fastest growing property sites in the country.

The investments in Ola Cabs and Housing.com would be the first investments for Milner in India in his personal capacity. In May, Indian online retailer Flipkart managed to raise $210 million in a round of financing led by Digital Sky Technologies Global (DST), a high-profile investment fund owned by the Russian tycoon.

Ola Cabs and Housing.com declined comment when contacted by RIR. A spokesman for Milner was not available for comment.

DST Fund was established in the mid-2000s by Milner and his partners. The fund purchased stakes in various Russian internet companies, in particular the web portal Mail.ru, Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte. Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov became DST’s largest shareholder in 2008. After that Milner established DST Global, a separate fund engaged in international expansion.

Milner bought a 1.96 percent stake in Facebook in 2009 for $200 million. Through Mail.Ru, Milner has a stake in Zynga, Twitter, Spotify, ZocDoc, Groupon, 360Buy.com, Planet Labs and Alibaba. In 2012, Bloomberg Markets Magazine listed Milner as one of the 50 most influential people in the world.

A growing number of Russian investors are beginning to look at India’s burgeoning start-up sector, the hub of which is in the cities of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Gurgaon.  

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