Yandex’s Billion-Dollar Breakup: Russia’s Tech Giant Seals $5.21 Billion Deal in Largest Corporate Exit
Yandex often referred to as “Russia’s Google,” has entered into a monumental 475-billion-rouble ($5.21 billion) deal, signifying the largest corporate exit from the country since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.
The deal orchestrated by the Kremlin involves the sale of Yandex to a consortium of Russian investors, marking a significant shift in ownership for Russia’s largest technology player. The group of investors includes a fund ultimately owned by the prominent oil major Lukoil. This strategic move is expected to bring Yandex entirely under Russian ownership and cement its departure from Western tech circles.
Once hailed as one of the few Russian companies with the potential to achieve global prominence, Yandex, listed on Nasdaq, has been a key player in the development of leading online services in Russia, spanning search, advertising, and ride-hailing.
The co-founder of Yandex, Arkady Volozh, who relocated from Russia to Israel in 2014, openly criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “barbaric” in August. This stance reportedly prompted some influential figures within the Kremlin to advocate for the nationalization of Yandex. However, concerns about a potential technology brain drain and the desire to retain crucial talent compelled a different course of action.
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The complex deal negotiated over the past 18 months ensures that Yandex’s businesses, contributing to over 95% of its revenues, will remain in Russia and fall under Russian control. The Kremlin has welcomed the agreement, highlighting its efforts to separate the Russian businesses from Yandex NV, its Dutch parent company.
The sale of Yandex to a group of Russian investors reflects a significant shift in the dynamics of the country’s tech landscape and raises questions about the future trajectory of one of Russia’s most prominent technology giants. The move comes at a time of increased scrutiny on Russia’s international relations and the geopolitical implications of its major corporations realigning with domestic interests.