MOSCOW: Russia's Sberbank and internet firm said on Thursday they had signed a letter of intent to launch a joint platform in taxi services and food to create a “last mile" delivery player.

Russia is facing a boom in online sales businesses, from taxi services to clothes and food. The new joint venture will compete with Yandex.Taxi, a joint venture between Russia's largest internet search engine Yandex and US online taxi service Uber.

The platform based on Delivery Club and Citymobil may be valued at over 100 billion roubles ($1.58 billion), said in a statement.

Sberbank shares were up 0.04pc and Mail.Ru was 0.2pc higher following the announcement.

The partnership will broaden the geographic reach of Delivery Club, one of Russia's biggest food delivery services, and accelerate the regional expansion of Citymobil taxi, the companies said.

Sberbank and Group plan to invest up to 64 billion roubles in the joint venture, which will operate in markets worth more than 1 trillion roubles combined over the next three years.

“This is a key step in building a business that will have a significant impact on Russia's digital economy," Group CEO Boris Dobrodeev said in a statement.

“The Russian online food delivery and taxi services markets have considerable growth potential."

The partners will hold equal 50/50 stakes in the joint venture, which may consider listing its shares in the next couple of years, the joint statement said. Its rival Yandex.Taxi is considering IPO as well. Group will contribute to the new company its 100pc stake in Delivery Club and 22.69pc stake in Citymobil, as well as 7.7 billion roubles.

Sberbank will contribute its 35pc share in restaurant marketing digital platform Foodplex and nearly 38 billion roubles in cash. and Sberbank may invest additionally up to 5.1 billion roubles and 13 billion roubles respectively, depending on the joint venture's performance, they said.

Cell phone operator Megafon earlier agreed to sell its stake in to China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd as part of a deal to secure 24.3pc of online retailer joint venture AliExpress Russia.

Copyright Reuters, 2019