MOSCOW, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Russia’s largest lender Sberbank and internet firm Mail.ru said on Wednesday they had invested an additional 12 billion roubles ($164 million) in their ride-hailing and online food venture, on equal terms.
The money would be spent on scaling up certain aspects of the venture, including its mapping service and e-grocery delivery, the companies said in a joint statement.
The move marks another step towards the companies’ pursuit of market share in Russia’s digital economy, a sector spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and offers additional competition to the country’s leading technology company, Yandex.
“Some business verticals have been stimulated by the pandemic — under different circumstances, it would have taken years to build that audience pool,” Mail.Ru Group chief executive Boris Dobrodeev said in a statement.
The companies said their intention was to go beyond just food delivery, but explore new domains, such as dark kitchens and stores, which bypass restaurants and high-street shops to cater directly to online customers.
Similarly, with its ride-hailing and car sharing offerings, the firms said they wanted to go beyond just transportation, but provide an optimal and convenient service.
“We’re naturally interested in reinforcing our leadership where our domination is established, and most importantly we seek to take the lead with our brand new services that we are now launching as part of the JV,” Lev Khasis, first deputy chairman of Sberbank’s executive board, said in the statement.
The two companies finalised terms in November. They said their 45.005% stakes in the joint venture would remain equal after the funding injection. ($1 = 73.0286 roubles) (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Alexander Marrow;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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