Facebook Investor DST Expands Mail.ru With Astrum Online Merger

Digital Sky Technologies (aka DST), the Russian Internet holding company that holds stakes in several major Russian-language social networking and communication players and notably also recently invested in Facebook, is melting two of its largest portfolio companies together into one online powerhouse.

Astrum Online Entertainment, itself formed by DST after merging five online game companies that were active mainly in Russia and Eastern Europe (Astrum Nival, Nikita.Online, IT Territory, TimeZero and DJ Games) back in 2007, will effectively become 100% owned by Mail.ru, the leading Internet portal in the Russian speaking world and equally majority-owned by DST.

The transaction is structured as an acquisition of Astrum Online shares by Mail.ru, paid for by a combination of the latter’s shares and an undisclosed amount in cash. The combined entity, DST claims, is capable of reaching some 300 million Russian located around the globe (the aggregate audience of both companies is said to be somewhere around 50 million users today). It will fly under the Mail.ru flag, which is arguably the most familiar brand name of the pair.

Curiously, the press release bares no mention of Naspers/ MIH Group, although the South-African conglomerate owns 43% of Mail.ru and was recently granted anti-trust permission to buy between 38% and 100% of Astrum Online from DST.

We’re digging for more information.