East European Social Network Concentration In Naspers/DST Deal?

South Africa’s Naspers and Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies (DST) are in talks to pool their Polish social networks Gadu-Gadu and Nasza-klasa.pl, according to Russian business daily Kommersant, citing “a source close to the deal”.

Naspers, which owns Gadu-Gadu outright, is reportedly doing due diligence on Forticom, the DST-owned social network operator that bought its 75 percent stake in Nasza-Klasa.pl for $92 million in 2008. We’ve got queries in with both sides – DST tells us: “We do not comment on any market speculation”

Shareholdings in Russia and eastern Europe are a piecemeal patchwork – partial stakes change hands with ease…

Naspers and DST already co-own Russia’s top portal Mail.ru, together with Tiger Global. And DST’s Forticom holds 25 percent in Russia’s top social network Odnoklassniki.ru, as well as its own social net One in its native Lithuania and Latvia. But Kommersant says this deal would include only both companies’ Polish assets.

Like Odnoklassniki.ru and Facebook, Nasza-Klasa.pl (Poland’s leading social net, with 27 million registered users) started as a classmates’ network, but Gadu-Gadu is an ICQ-like chat service, claiming seven million users. Combined, they would command a third of Polish daily interview views, according to an analyst quoted by Kommersant. The deal will mean both companies can better control advertising on the Polish sites, which command important expatriate audiences in Russia and the UK, as well as at home.

Naspers’ internet arm MIH has transformed the company from merely a South African broadcaster in to a global internet player through acquisitions in developing markets. As well as the important Mail.ru stake, it now owns a string of properties including China’s QQ instant messager and Holland’s NumBuzz social net gateway.

Digital Sky Technologies is the lynchpin in a Russian digital media investment landscape that’s fast becoming as important overseas as it is at home. It paid $200 million for 1.96 percent of Facebook last year.

Forticom itself is bullish – CEO Yasar Nasin told December’s Noah conference in London it would be “Europe’s biggest internet company” by this year. It currently has revenue in the “triple-digit million dollars