South African holding buys popular Polish instant messenger Gadu-Gadu

The Naspers group paid Warsaw Equity Holdings $155 mln, or about 410 mln zloty, for 55 percent of the company, which is very profitable. The crown jewel of Gadu-Gadu is an instant messaging service that 6 mln people use. But it also has the community portal mojageneracja.pl, an Internet radio station and an Internet telephone service.

Before Naspers acquired Gadu Gadu, the Krakow information portal Interia offered 30 mln zloty, or about $11 mln, for it. Warsaw Equity Holdings said that bid was too small. Gadu-Gadu went public in February of this year. The price that Naspers offered Warsaw Equity Holdings was 23.5 zloty per share, or 20 percent more than the 18.8 zloty price of the stock on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Gadu-Gadu’s instant-messaging service is one of the big success stories in Poland’s Internet world. Its creator, 35-year-old computer scientist Lukasz Foltyn, took advantage of an explosion in Internet technology at the end of the 1990s. He still holds 14 percent of the shares. These days he has been concentrating on a political career, however. He is going to stand as candidate in early parliamentary elections coming October 21.

Naspers, whose stock is listed on both the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges, has television stations, Internet operations, newspapers, magazines, books and other media properties around the world.It made $2.7 bln in revenue last year. In January of this year Naspers bought 30 percent of the shares of the popular Russian Internet service mail.ru. It has begun investing in Ukraine and is planning additional investments in this part of the world. It also owns part of the Chinese instant-messaging service QQ.

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