Russian steel tycoon and Arsenal shareholder's $6bn Facebook payout

Alisher Usmanov set to win big at Facebook IPO.

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.

Alisher Usmanov, owner of 10 per cent of Facebook. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.