The world's third most used search engine, Yandex, is up on sale

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Key notes

  • Yandex sells Russian assets for $5.2 billion in the largest exit since the Ukraine war.
  • The deal includes a search engine, ride-hailing app, and e-commerce platform; Yandex retains international ventures.
  • Sale driven by Western sanctions, domestic scrutiny, and founder’s EU sanctions.
  • Questions remain about Yandex’s future success abroad without its core Russian market.
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Yandex NV, a tech giant, has agreed to sell its Russian assets for $5.2 billion. This marks the biggest corporate departure from Russia since the Ukraine war. The Dutch-registered company has negotiated for over a year to separate its profitable domestic operations from its international ventures.

The deal sees Yandex’s Russian arm, encompassing its ubiquitous search engine, ride-hailing app, and e-commerce platform, being acquired by a consortium led by Yandex management and a fund owned by oil giant Lukoil. Several other Russian entrepreneurs are also involved in the purchase.

Multiple factors drive this strategic divestiture. Yandex has faced mounting pressure on both sides of the geopolitical divide: Western sanctions targeting Russian entities and domestic scrutiny due to its perceived alignment with pro-Kremlin narratives. Founder Arkady Volozh, sanctioned by the EU last year, further complicated the company’s international standing.

The deal will allow shareholders to recover some value for the businesses that we are divesting.

Stated Yandex Chairman John Boynton, highlighting the financial incentive for the sale.

Additionally, it opens doors for the company to pursue “new growth potential” with its retained international businesses, including its AI cloud platform and self-driving technology development.

While significant, the $5.2 billion price tag reflects a mandatory 50% discount imposed by Russia on foreign companies exiting the country under current sanctions.

Notably, several sanctioned individuals, including billionaire Vladimir Potanin, were initially vying for the assets but did not make the final cut.

Since the Ukraine invasion, numerous Western companies have opted to leave Russia, facing logistical challenges, operational disruptions, and reputational risks. McDonald’s, ExxonMobil, and Shell are just a few prominent examples. 

More here.

More about the topics: search engine, yandex

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