Google to Buy Russian Ad Firm for $140 Million

Google will acquire six-year-old Russian contextual ad network Begun from U.K.-based Rambler Media in a $140 million transaction.

Rambler owns 50.1 percent of ZAO Begun, and under the terms of the deal will acquire the remaining 49.9 percent stake from Bannatyne Limited before selling the whole lot to Google.

Moscow-based Begun’s keyword-targeted site network boasts distribution relationships with approximately 143,000 Web sites, which will eventually be offered a wide set of Google’s available ad formats, targeting methods, and other monetization services. Begun offers pay-per-click, pay-per-call and other performance-based pricing models. The firm also provides an agency licensing and training program geared toward resellers of its network inventory.

Begun General Director Alexey Basov noted the firm’s years of experience in direct sales in the region. Neither company could immediately be reached for details on the size of that direct sales force or Google’s plans for it.

“This agreement will result in better search results and more relevant advertising for our Russian users and publishers,” said Mohammad Gawdat, Managing Director Emerging Markets, Google.

Google and Rambler expect to close the transaction in September.

Founded in 2002, Begun was privately owned until 2003, when Russian brokerage firm Finam acquired 80 percent of it. Finam later sold 50.1 percent of its stake to Rambler.

A Google spokesperson told ClickZ News no decisions have been made about the fate of Begun’s management structure. “We see this acquisition as a strategically reasonable step in our development in Russia, as we consider Russia as an important country and are committed to it,” the spokesperson said.

Jack Marshall contributed to this story.

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