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Russia's Internet company Mail.ru is preparing to hold an initial public
Russia's Internet company Mail.ru is preparing to hold an initial public offering and hopes to place shares in advance of Russian web search engine Yandex, business daily Vedomosti reported on Thursday.

Shareholders at Mail.ru set the company the task of placing shares on the London Stock Exchange ahead of Yandex, Russia's most popular search engine, which is preparing an IPO on the U.S. Nasdaq in the fall with a company preliminary valuation of $5 billion, Vedomosti said, referring to industry experts.

"An IPO is one of the options for the company's development but no official decision has been made yet," Mail.ru Marketing Director Anna Artamonova said.

Meanwhile, the paper's sources said the Internet company was already holding IPO negotiations, in particular, with Goldman Sachs. However, Paul Kafka, a representative of Goldman Sachs, declined to comment on the reports.

Analysts say an IPO could enable Mail.ru, which has around 35 million users per month, to get a valuation of the company's business and eventually sell the company's stock on the stock exchange or to a strategic investor. Meanwhile, a company source told Vedomosti that none of Mail.ru's shareholders were prepared to quit the Internet firm.

South Africa's media group Naspers bought 30% of Mail.ru for $165 million in January 2007, valuing the company at $550 million. In November 2007, Naspers purchased a further 2.6% stake in Mail.ru, proceeding from the web portal's valuation of $1 billion.

Mail.ru has not published any financial statements since 2005.


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