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Russian news publisher Kommersant has acquired half of LiveJournal owner Sup in exchange for giving the blog operator control of its Gazeta.ru news portal. LiveJournal had integrated its features in to the news site over the last year but will now take charge outright in what is a significant change in direction from mere journal hosting.
Gazeta will get further UGC features under Sup’s oversight, though its editorial, ad sales and staff will remain under Kommersant, which will install two members on Sup’s board. Gazeta.ru editor Mikhail Mikhailin, quoted by Kommersant itself, wants to create “our own blogosphere and to improve interactive work with readers”.
I’s a no-cash deal and The price wasn’t disclosed and essentially gives Sup something valuable in exchange for its equity, though a Moscow VC estimated its worth at up to $15 million.
Kommersant, which started as an eponymous business paper, started Gazeta.ru in 1999, sold it to Sekret Firmy Publishing in 2005, then bought it back for $30 million in November 2006. It seems it has now decided to focus on partnerships for its core Kommersant.ru, having recently struk tie-ups with MSN.ru and NewsTube. Gazeta.ru got 110,00 daily users in Moscow in May while Sup’s LiveJournal.com, LiveJournal.ru and Championat.ru got over 600,000 per month, according to TNS.
Sup emerged in the market when it bought LiveJournal from MovableType maker Six Apart in December, after long operating the site on license in Russia. Sup maintains a head office in LJ’s native San Francisco but the focus is on Moscow, to where it recently lured Russian-speaking ITV.com broadband MD Annelies van den Belt to become MD. Sup says LiveJournal’s Russian traffic has doubled under its ownership. Release.
Update: Sup’s PR contacted us to say the deal was not no-cash, as Kommersant itself reported. So much for integration.