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Multi-million investment for Buka

Investment company Finam and North-West/West Russia Regional Venture fund, NORUM, have made an investment in the development of Russian games company, Buka Entertainment.

The investors' combined shareholding of Buka amounts to 52.9 per cent, with a total transaction of several million dollars. The assets received will be used to help Buka in its publishing of game titles, as well as widening its distribution network.

"Our strategy is two-fold," said Igor Ustinov, Buka's chairman of board of directors. "On the one hand we mean to raise the quality of our own gaming projects and to publish on the Russian territory only the best foreign games. On the other hand our most important goal is to increase the number of 'home territories', i.e. territories where we conduct full publishing cycle (manufacturing, marketing, sales)."

"For example, our representative office was opened in China in 2004, and we started to actively expand on the Chinese market," he continued. "In the long run we're planning to start working on other developing markets. In two or three years we plan to occupy no less than 2.5 per cent of Chinese market, which, according to our estimates, amounts to 150-200 million dollars."

Sergei Oparin, the executive director of IC Finam investment and banking department said: "We consider our investment in Buka as one more trend of our development in the direct investment sphere. We assume that by year 2008 Buka will become the leading computer game publisher in Russia and will significantly increase its worth. So withdrawal from the project may happen after 2.5 - 3.5 years."

Alexander Vlasov, investment manager of NORUM fund added: "Withdrawal mechanics may be various. Holdings stock might be sold to the financial or strategy investors, or stock might be offered to the general public. According to our calculations, after several years, Buka's worth might be over 40 million dollars."

Buka Entertainment is one of the largest and oldest Russian computer games publishers. It publishes Russian projects and localisations of foreign projects. Buka games are sold in 70 countries of the world and are localized for 15 languages, including Japanese and Chinese. The company's share on the publishing market between the years of 2003-2004 reached around 12 per cent. According to the analysts, in 2005 the legal Russian computer gaming market will constitute $150-200 million dollars in retail, with a market growth of 30 per cent.