Founders of Gumtree cash in on their latest venture

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The Independent Online

The UK entrepreneurs behind the launch of Gumtree have sold off their latest venture, a classified advertising site for Eastern Europe. Slando, set up by Michael Pennington and Simon Crookall, has been bought by Africa's largest media group, Naspers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mr Pennington and Mr Crookall set up Gumtree in 2000 after deciding that Londoners needed a classified ad website focusing on homes. They sold it to eBay in 2005. The US auction giant also backed Slando, taking a 20 per cent stake in the venture. The pair set up Slando in 2006, and users can post adverts on it for everything from property sales to dating and jobs. The London-based site is active in 10 Eastern Europe countries, Portugal and Brazil.

It has 11 million users in Russia and Eastern Europe and 1.5 million adverts were posted on its websites in July. Among the more unusual items offered for sale were a MIG 21 aircraft and an entire oil refinery.

Mr Crookall said the pair had used "many of the lessons we learned in setting up developing Gumtree" and predicted that the brand would become "as dominant in Russia and the Ukraine as Gumtree has done in the UK and beyond".

The site employs 15 people and will remain based in the UK. Mr Pennington and Mr Crookall will stay on to oversee the integration over the next six months.

Internet use in Russia is predicted to grow from its current 40 per cent to more than 70 per cent. Naspers, which is based in South Africa, has a portfolio of internet firms and bought a 29 per cent stake in mail.ru, the Russian group, formerly known as Digital Sky Technologies, that has invested in Facebook and the games portal Zynga.

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