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
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)