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Feb 14, 2024 549

Yandex owner to exit Russia in $5.2 billion deal

#Regional

"Yandex NV has struck a 475-billion-rouble ($5.21 billion) deal to sell what has been dubbed ""Russia's Google"" to a group of Russian investors, marking the biggest corporate exit from the country since Moscow invaded Ukraine almost two years ago"

Yandex NV, often referred to as "Russia's Google," has struck a deal worth 475 billion roubles ($5.21 billion) to sell to a group of Russian investors, marking the largest corporate exit from Russia since the country's invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago. This deal, orchestrated by the Kremlin, will transfer ownership of Russia's largest technology player entirely to Russian investors, including a fund owned by Lukoil, solidifying Yandex's departure from Western tech circles.

Once viewed as a potential global business, Yandex, listed on Nasdaq, had developed leading online services in Russia, including search, advertising, and ride-hailing. However, co-founder Arkady Volozh's criticism of Russia's invasion of Ukraine led to pressure from the Kremlin to nationalize Yandex. Fear of a technology brain drain ultimately influenced a complex deal, ensuring that over 95% of Yandex's revenue-generating businesses remain in Russia under Russian control.

The deal, which has been welcomed by the Kremlin, values Yandex at $10.2 billion, significantly lower than its market value before Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The buyer, Consortium.First, managed by trustee Solid Management and led by members of Yandex's senior management team, includes support from financial investors, including Argonaut, ultimately owned by Lukoil. The sale, pending regulatory and shareholder approval, is expected to be completed in two stages, with Yandex retaining early-stage tech businesses, a data center in Finland, and core intellectual property assets.