Russia’s Fast Lane flips again with Shopping Live sale

Just two years after launching its incubator for Russian web companies, Moscow-based Fast Lane Ventures is making its second significant exit with the sale of TV and online retail service Shopping Live.

According to local reports, Fast Lane and other investors are selling up their stake in the company — a Russian teleshopping channel with an internet-based fulfillment and backend — to German giant Home Shopping Europe, the owner of channels like HSE24.

Here’s the Quintura blog:

Home Shopping Europe has purchased shares in Shopping Live and Direct Trade from the Russian internet business incubator Fast Lane Ventures and the Russian investors around Oskar Hartmann (founder and CEO of Russia’s leading online shopping club The management of Shopping Live and Oskar Hartmann will continue holding the remaining shares in Shopping Live.

Launched in July 2011, Shopping Live reaches 7.5 million out of 53 million Russian TV households via satellite and cable. According to National Mail Order Business Association (NADT), the Russian teleshopping market was valued at €200 million in 2010.

Although Fast Lane cannot sell the entire company — foreign businesses are barred from controlling TV channels under Russian law — it marks an interesting moment for non-traditional retail. Shopping outside the bricks and mortar metaphor, whether on the web or through the TV, is still a pretty nascent idea for much of Russia, where consumers prefer to pay in cash. In fact, for many Russian shoppers, buying virtually still means they place an order online and pay cash on delivery.

But although terms of the deal are not being disclosed, it seems that HSE believes there is plenty of growth in the format.

And whatever the case, it is another remarkably fast flip from Fast Lane, which recently sold its online shoe retail business Sapato to Ozon — Russia’s biggest web store — for a figure rumored to be around $40m.

CEO Marina Treshchova, who recently gave us her tips on how to approach the Russian market, told Unova that the sale spoke to the “unique ability” of her team to build significant companies rapidly.

“This is one of the first businesses we created ” she said. “And it confirms the company’s appeal as an investment, as well as the unique ability of Fast Lane Ventures team to achieve the best results in the shortest time.”