Yandex’s $5.2 Billion exit: Russia’s tech giant changes hands

Yandex NV, known as “Russia’s Google,” has sealed a 475-billion-rouble ($5.21 billion) deal with a Russian investor consortium, marking a significant exit since Moscow’s Ukraine invasion nearly two years ago. The Kremlin-engineered deal signifies the complete transfer of Russia’s largest technology player into domestic ownership, including a fund linked to oil giant Lukoil, solidifying Yandex’s disconnection from Western tech spheres.

Initially seen as a global player, Yandex, listed on Nasdaq, offered leading online services in Russia. Co-founder Arkady Volozh, critical of the invasion, faced Kremlin pressure, but concerns about a technology brain drain led to a deal ensuring over 95% of revenues stay in Russia.

Kremlin-Yandex talks, spanning 18 months, aimed to separate Russian businesses from Dutch parent Yandex NV. The $10.2 billion deal, at a substantial discount, involves Consortium.First, managed by Solid Management, led by Yandex’s Russian team, and financially backed, including by Lukoil’s Argonaut.

The two-stage transaction, subject to approval, expects completion in the first half of 2024. Yandex NV plans to delist from the Moscow Exchange after a new listing, retaining tech businesses, a Finnish data center, core intellectual property, and assuring independence in a letter to Russian employees.