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Russia's Ozon reports 135% jump in first quarter transactions, raises guidance

MOSCOW, May 18 (Reuters) - Russian online retailer Ozon on Tuesday reported a sixth consecutive quarter of triple-digit growth in online transaction volumes - its core business metric - and said it now expects to double turnover on its platform this year.

Ozon, which uses couriers, pickup points and parcel lockers to run one of Russia’s largest e-commerce platforms, said it handled more than 34 million orders in the quarter, up 161%.

However, its adjusted EBITDA loss widened to 4.9 billion roubles ($66.44 million) ffom 4.5 billion roubles a year ago.

Gross merchandise volume (GMV)- a measure of online transactions - grew 135% year-on-year to 74.2 billion roubles in the first three months of the year, prompting the company to raise its full-year GMV growth guidance to 100% from 90%, while sticking to capital expenditure of 20-25 billion roubles.

The EBITDA loss was above expectations, BCS said in a note, but GMV at this stage is more important.

Ozon, which debuted on the Nasdaq late last year, will be included in the MSCI Russia Index this month and will launch in Belarus later this year as part of its expansion drive.

CFO Igor Gerasimov said continuously strong GMV growth had confirmed the company’s strategy of rapid growth and gaining market share.

“We plan to continue scaling and do not intend to slow down the current pace of investment,” he said on a conference call.

A significant amount of general and administrative expenses were spent on reinforcing IT infrastructure, Gerasimov added, which included recruiting highly qualified IT professionals.

$1 = 73.7500 roubles Reporting by Alexander Marrow; additional reporting by Olga Popova; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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