Amazon, SoftBank Held Talks to Acquire Russian E-Retailer Ozon, Shareholder Says

Europe

Global retail giant Amazon and Japan’s SoftBank have made approaches to Russian conglomerate Sistema about a possible acquisition of its online retailer Ozon, Sistema’s majority owner Vladimir Evtushenkov said on Saturday. It’s not immediately clear if talks are still under way or have ended. Sistema has said it was looking for partners to invest in Ozon, in which it holds a more than 40 percent.

“The interest to Ozon among foreign investors is very high,” Evtushenkov told reporters after Sistema’s annual general meeting.

“I can tell you that this is the only one company in Russia at which Amazon was looking from the participation point of view,” he said, adding that SoftBank was also interested in Ozon.

Ozon chief executive Aleksandr Shulgin met with his Amazon counterpart, Jeff Bezos, “five or six months ago,” said Evtushenkov.

A spokesman for Sistema declined to comment further.

Ozon is the subject of interest from Russia’s largest lender Sberbank, with four sources telling Reuters this month that the bank has been in talks to buy a large stake.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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