Gazprom, owner of GazpromMedia, buys majority of VK.com

On December 2d Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov USM announced that his company sold controlling shares of VK - the largest Russian social network company – to Sogaz which is a state insurance company under the control of energy-giant Gazprom.

USM, which held key shares, announced that it had sold 45% of voting shares of VK and now Sogaz owns 57.3% voting stake and 4.8% economic stake in VK. VK also known as Mail Group this year had a rebranding and now is an ecosystem called VK Group which includes other social network companies such as Mail.ru and Odnoklassniki, also known as OK. The total number of active users of VK is 73.4 million and OK is 40 million. Apart from that, the services of Mail Group include other online brands such as delivery services.

Now the largest voting shareholder in VK is an insurance company Sogaz-group which was founded by Gazprom – the biggest gas company in Russia. Before that, in November another giant holding company Sberbank also sold its VK stakes to Gazprom. Gazprom and its subsidiary company Gazprom-media are now the largest media holding companies in Russia. Currently, Gazprom-media owns not only the VK group but also 9 TV channels, 32-special-interest channels, 8-production studios, 11-radio stations, 3-video services, 2-digital media platforms, 2-film distributors.

As the role of state involvement in VK Group increased after the deal, it seems that the policy of its social networks may undergo many changes, especially in the sphere of content production, distribution, legal matters, and cyber security. It is a well-known fact that VK and OK are on top of the biggest infringement content hubs and right holders usually struggle to uphold their rights. Also, there may be feasible changes in content removal and banning groups that distribute illegal content and go against copyright law.