24 April 2012

VTB Capital Venture Business leads investment round in Fast Lane Ventures as its new strategic partner

VTB Capital Venture Business, leading venture capital  in the Russian and CIS venture capital market, and Fast Lane Ventures, the leading developer of internet companies, announce the start of their collaboration to tap into the Russian internet market, through a joint venture partnership.

In accordance with the terms of the transaction, VTB Capital Venture Business led series C investment into Fast Lane Ventures with a total value of US$18 million. The funds will be used to develop the current portfolio of companies Fast Lane Ventures has, as well as provide finance for new investments. It will also be used to further strengthen Fast Lane Venture’s team and expertise. VTB Capital Venture Business is considering the possibility of direct investment into Fast Lane Ventures’ portfolio of companies in the future.

The transaction is expected to strengthen VTB Capital Venture Business and Fast Lane Venture’s position in the Russian internet market. VTB Capital Venture Business has prioritised B2C internet for investment and intends to increase their market share here by the end of 2012.

Aidar Kaliev, Global Head of Venture Business at VTB Capital, said: “The Russian internet market is placed number one in Europe, however, the level of competition is still rather low in many segments. This shortfall means we can initiate new trends and establish leadership in new areas. Fast Lane Ventures opens a window of opportunity for us into the world of internet consumption. This market has very high potential and this reinforces our tactics to enter here as soon as possible, as we do not want to miss any opportunities.  The Fast Lane Venture team is one of the most professional teams in the Russian internet market, with proven capabilities to build online businesses fast and effectively, bringing them up to market leading standards. Working with Fast Lane Ventures will help us enter the segment smoothly and expand our presence in this market significantly.”

Within its two years of operation, Fast Lane Ventures has launched eighteen fast growing companies online, two of which have been successfully purchased by strategic investors. The total volume of investments in Fast Lane Ventures and its portfolio companies has amounted to more than $60million. The investors list includes Direct Group, eVenture Capital Partners, Kinnevik, Russia Partners, Intel Capital, UMJ (Russia) and many others. Fast Lane Ventures has developed and implemented a solution called Fast 50 which enables new businesses to be launched in 50 days. The company plans to further expand its portfolio of companies.

Marina Treshchova, CEO of Fast Lane Ventures, said: “Demand far exceeds supply in the area of high quality online services and internet audience numbers are increasing all the time. This defines the key trend of the Russian internet market where the consumer is at the forefront of the industry. Within just two years, Fast Lane Ventures has achieved leadership in the development, launch and promotion of new online businesses because we have the expertise needed to carry out these transactions quickly and efficiently. We have always aspired to grow our companies into segment leaders and with VTB Capital as a partner, I am confident we will achieve this much faster.”

The partnership with VTB Capital will unveil new opportunities for Fast Lane Ventures. Apart from the evident financial support to help expand its portfolio and strengthen the market positions of its operating businesses, this partnership also provides a considerable reputational boost.  In collaborating with the leading investment bank, this acts as a symbol of trust for the Russian and international community.

Victor Belogub, Chief Investment Manager at VTB Capital’s Venture Business, commented: “This exciting new partnership is only at the early stages, but I believe it will grow into a long-term and low risk cooperation. To start, we aim to invest for approximately 5-7 years and are confident that the value of Fast Lane Ventures portfolios will multiply during this period.” 

Stefano Zuppet, Global Head of TMT Investment Banking, VTB Capital, highlights: “I believe the strategic partnership of the two companies will further fuel interest in the Russian internet market from the international investor community. To date, the key positions in Runet have been taken by local players, unlike in the major European internet segments, and this means entering the Russian market requires a trustworthy partner and deep knowledge of the unique idiosyncrasies and upsides of the Russian online space. The union of VTB Capital Venture Business and Fast Lane Ventures will contribute to further increase the momentum of international investors coming to the Russian market, which will provide capital inflow, additional operational expertise and further accelerate the overall growth of the sector.”