British investment fund Growth Management Ltd has bought a 10% stake in Georgia’s largest internet provider, Caucasus Online, for an undisclosed amount, Reuters reported.
Mamia Sanadiradze, chief executive of Caucasus Online, owned 95.1% before the deal, with TBC Bank owning the remaining shares.
Caucasus Online emerged as a near monopoly with about 90% of the market in 2006 after taking over two major internet providers – Sanet and Georgia Online. The company is due to make a public offering on the London Stock Exchange by the end of the year, making it the second Georgian company listed on the LSE after the Bank of Georgia. Last September Caucasus Online signed a contract with the U.S.-based Tyco Telecommunications to lay a 1,100-kilometer underwater fiber optic system linking Georgia with Bulgaria.
Turnover for internet providers was GEL 26.15 million (USD 15.5 million) in 2006, up from GEL 19.8 million (USD 11 million) in 2005, according to the Georgian National Communications Commission. The figure for 2007 is unavailable.