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As it plays catch-up in the Russian search market, Google will acquire a seasoned Russian ad firm for $140m in cash.

In Russia, according to those wily net watchers over at comScore, native outfit Yandex is the leading search engine, with over 47 per cent of the market, and Google is a distant second, with about 32 per cent. But Larry, Serg, and the gang have sealed a Microhoo-esque deal with the number three player in an effort to become czar of all the online Russias.

The number three player is Rambler Media (almost 10 per cent, if you must know), and Rambler has agreed to sell Google its ad unit, ZAO Begun. According to the company, Begun - as it's called - boasts more than 40,000 advertisers and an online ad network encompassing 143,000 Russian language sites.

Naturally, after the $140m deal goes through, Rambler will begin serving Google ads, tapping into the company's AdSense for Search and AdSense for Content programs.

"This agreement illustrates our commitment to investing in Russia, where online advertising is currently experiencing rapid growth," read a canned Mohammad Gawdat, Google's managing director for emerging markets. "We are very excited about the opportunity to deliver more relevant search and ads to users and provide advertisers and publishers with better advertising technology to help them succeed in their own businesses."

The deal should close in September. Rambler owns a 50.1 per cent stake in Begun; when Google forks over that $140m, just under half will go to the other owner (Bannatyne, if you must know). ®

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