Russia's Richest Man Makes $525 Million on Facebook Stock Sale

7:46 AM PST 09/06/2013 by Nick Holdsworth

Alisher Usmanov sold his company's small stake in the social network to invest further in expanding Internet site Mail.ru.

MOSCOW – Russia's richest man, Alisher Usmanov, has made more than $525 million by selling his remaining stake in Facebook, which has seen a 52 percent increase in its share price since May.

Usmanov, who unloaded 14.2 million Facebook shares -- representing about a 0.6 percent stake in the social media giant -- during July and August, was an early investor in Facebook in 2009. He earned around $1.4 billion by selling shares at the time of the company's IPO last year.

The Uzbek-born billionaire controls the biggest Internet provider in the Russian-speaking world, Mail.ru, which owns stakes in top Russian social media sites such as networking site Vkontakte and school friends site Odnoklassniki. He also owns Russian daily business newspaper Kommersant and a major stake in the country's second-largest mobile provider, Megafon. Among his other holdings are interests in Russian regional TV stations. In 2006, he spent several million dollars to buy a collection of Soviet-era animation shows he then donated to a newly formed Russian children's TV channel, Bibigon.

The businessman also owns a 30 percent stake in London's Arsenal soccer club and, via a metals company he owns to avoid conflicts of interest, holds a stake in the Russian capital's soccer team Dinamo Moscow.

Usmanov, who turns 60 on Monday, benefited from waiting to sell his Facebook shares, which have climbed in recent months on the back of growing demand for mobile advertising.

Worth around $20 billion, Usmanov maintains a $73 million home in north London and a Tudor manor house in Sutton Place, Surrey, southwest of London. 

The Facebook shares, which Usmanov held through Mail.ru, are understood to have been sold to free up capital to invest into further growing the Russian site's social networking and gaming businesses.

The billionaire still retains an undisclosed stake in Facebook through a separate holding, DST Global, a firm that also owns stakes in Twitter, Spotify and Groupon.

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