The New York Times reports on the winning bet made by Russian steel tycoon Alisher Usmanov on Facebook. After the IPO later this week his stake, bought for $900m in 2009, is set to be worth around $6bn.
The magnate bought into Facebook significantly later than most investors who stand to substantially profit from the IPO, but the NYT reports how:
Mr. Zuckerberg turned to the Russian investors in 2009 at a meeting quietly brokered by Goldman Sachs. Other sources of financing had slowed because of the crisis. And, because of the popularity of online social games in Russia, investors here had a keen sense of the value of social networking sites and were willing to pay more than others for a stake in Facebook.
The Russians were also willing to accept another condition important to Mr. Zuckerberg. Despite owning 10 percent of Facebook, they would get no voting rights or seat on the board. They would also have no say in the site’s policies on privacy or political organizing — preserving independence that has become especially important as Facebook has played a major role in domestic politics in Russia.
Usmanov is better known in Britain as the minority shareholder of Arsenal FC. He owns almost 30 per cent of the club, including 16 shares historically held by Rangers FC, but his seeming attempt to become the majority owner was thwarted in 2011 when American businessman Stan Kroenke increased his holding to 63 per cent.