Gazprom-Russian Energy, Gas and Electricity Supplier

  • Current Russian Prime Minister, Dmitri A. Medvedev, was a former chairman of the Gazprom board
  • Subsidiaries include the Steel Mills run by Alisher B. Usmanov
    before spinning off as Gazmetal renamed Metalloinvest
  • Usmanov top backer of Digital Sky Technologies, D.S.T., run by Yuri Milner, who met with Zuckerberg
  • D.S.T. and Russian Internet company invested in Facebook from 2009-2011
  • In 2012, Usmanov planned to sell his Facebook shares in the IPO to relieve debt from acquisition of iron ore mines in Russia

A Russian Magnate’s Facebook Bet Pays Off Big NY Times

“Now the Russian-led investments of less than $900 million, made through two entities, and Digital Sky Technologies, will be worth more than $6 billion, based on the midpoint of the $34 to $38 price range that Facebook’s bankers have set for the stock.”  Alisher B. Usmanov “58, who got his start in the plastic bag business and was reared in a remote part of the Soviet Union, said he learned the benefits of acting boldly during the ruble crisis of 1998.“I have a theory of crisis that you must employ crisis to create additional margin,” he said this week in a telephone interview. “You need to understand when the moment of growth is coming, and invest just before that.”

Mr. Zuckerberg turned to the Russian investors in 2009 at a meeting quietly brokered by Goldman Sachs…Mr. Usmanov, who is close to the Kremlin, has not hesitated to use his media properties to support the government. Last December, he fired the publisher and editor at one of Russia’s most respected newsmagazines, Kommersant Vlast, after it published detailed accounts of bald falsification in national elections…

The precise details of the Russian ownership in Facebook are difficult to assess. The investments were made over two years though the Russian Internet company and the investment fund Digital Sky Technologies, also known as D.S.T., which is run by the venture capitalist Yuri Milner. Although Mr. Usmanov was the leading backer, other investors were involved.

Mr. Milner met with Zuckerberg in 2009 before the first investment, though Mr. Usmanov has never met him.

Mr. Milner said his focus on social networking reflected insights gained from watching the Russian Internet market develop in the last few years. In 2005, D.S.T. began investing in Internet companies in Russia and Eastern Europe…

Mr. Usmanov said that, after the series of investments from 2009 until 2011, he and Mr. Milner owned about 9 percent of Facebook at one point, but now own about 6 percent and will hold about 4.5 percent after the initial public offering.

Mr. Usmanov earned his billions in the post-Soviet business world, managing steel mill subsidiaries for Gazprom before they were spun off as his own businesses, Gazmetal, later renamed Metalloinvest. Mr. Usmanov has said he took on debt in this transaction and others acquiring iron ore mines in Russia.

He said he would use money from investors who buy his shares in the Facebook I.P.O. to invest and pay down debt at his other Russian businesses.

This year, Russia’s second-largest cellphone company, MegaFon, which Mr. Usmanov partly owns, is expected to issue shares in London in its own I.P.O.

From his work with Gazprom, Mr. Usmanov is said to be close to Russia’s former president and current prime minister, Dmitri A. Medvedev, a former chairman of the Gazprom board. His ties to the Kremlin and Facebook have stirred concerns that he might influence the company’s policies in subtle ways to appease governments in markets where Facebook is also an important tool of political dissent, such as Russia.

Because he does not vote Facebook shares, however, Mr. Usmanov has no direct influence on policies for the site in Russia.” NY Times