Russian internet major Mail.ru rebrands to VK in ecosystem drive

Russian internet major Mail.ru rebrands to VK in ecosystem drive
Russian internet major Mail.ru has rebranded to VK to tap into its popular VKontakte social media brand, the Russian answer to Facebook.
By bne IntelliNews October 14, 2021

Russia's internet major Mail.ru Group announced its rebranding into VK, the name of the social network (former VKontakte) and the key asset of the group.

As followed by bne IntelliNews, most recently Mail.ru reiterated its commitment to maintaining social network VK leadership. Since 2020 the company has been more active in leveraging its VK user base to support growth of its other services.

Mail.ru sees the rebranding as being in line with its ecosystem development strategy, which featured VK as its central element. MAIL sees that the VK brand has 100% brand awareness among the Russian internet audience and is used by 70% of local internet users daily. 

As a result of the rebranding Mail.ru also expects to see an increased association of about 200 products with the broader group, as well as deeper internal collaboration and less internal competition. The rebranding will not affect the operational structure.

Sova Capital sees the rebranding news as neutral for Mail.ru at this stage. "On the one hand, the new unified brand could indeed increase awareness of the company’s services and facilitate their usage. On the other hand, we think it remains to be seen whether the rebranding goes smoothly and whether other business units such as Odnoklassniki and My.Games are happy with promoting VK as the flagship banner," the analysts argue.

"We understand the idea of rebranding – [it] might indeed add some integrity between assets in the eyes of the customer and investors. Yet, neutral for Mail.ru – confirms its focus on cross-integration of services and importance of VK," BCS Global Markets commented.

BCS GM maintained a Buy call on Mail.ru. Sova Capital maintained a Buy recommendation on the shares estimating the valuation at 2022 Enterprise Value/EBITDA of 7.3x and Price/Earnings of 20.8x.

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