Russians sell $525m stake in Facebook

THE Russian internet group Mail.Ru, part-owned by the leading Arsenal football club shareholder Alisher Usmanov, has sold its remaining shares in Facebook for $525m (£337m).

The sale follows a bounceback in Facebook's share price after last year's slump, following its stock market debut. spent $200m to take a 2 per cent stake in Facebook in 2009 and is likely to have made close to a tenfold profit.

It sold some of its stake in the Facebook flotation last year. It has also sold its shares in the US daily deals group Groupon and game- maker Zynga as it looks to focus on its Russian operations since its own flotation in 2010.

"This is consistent with everything they've said since their IPO, which is these were non-core investments and they would dispose of them at an appropriate time and return cash to shareholders," Renaissance Capital's analyst David Ferguson said.

"It is an ongoing recognition that their focus is a core Russia social, communication and gaming business, and that's where they will continue to allocate their time."