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13 Jul, 2010 17:22

Russia defeats US in ICQ battle

Despite concerns from US security officials, one of the world’s largest instant-messaging services – ICQ – has finally changed citizenship.

Apart from $187 million, the purchase cost Russian Internet company Digital Sky Technologies a lot of worrying. The deal with AOL was announced as early as April, but out of the blue it faced strong resistance from US authorities.

The US Committee on Foreign Investment threatened to cancel the deal, claiming it seriously jeopardized homeland security. Authorities said that most criminals from Eastern Europe used ICQ to communicate and constant access to ICQ servers was needed to track them down, which was why the US felt more secure if the system was based in Israel, the US’s historic ally.

However, the Committee did not manage to stop the deal and the purchase was finally completed.

For DST, the acquisition is a significant step forward on the company’s path to Russian and European market dominance.

“ICQ is extremely popular in Russia. Many people use the messenger and they are extremely loyal, so the base of users is very good – you can just get them and move to any platform you want,” Zhelezo magazine editor-in-chief Andrey Mikhailyuk told RT.

Digital Sky Technologies is already one of the largest investment companies in the Russian sector, and ICQ will help to make its position even more secure. Recently, DSK bought a large stake in Russia’s Vkontakte social network, which is similar to Facebook, and in Facebook itself. The company is also in control of Mail.ru, the largest e-mail provider in Russia.