Yandex sells its Russian operations to local executives for $5.2 billion

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Yandex, often described as Russia’s Google, has sold its domestic businesses at a knock-down price. Bloomberg reports the search and services giant, now headquartered in the Netherlands, has handed off its Russian operations for 475 billion rubles ($5.2 billion) in cash and shares. The new owners include the management group, as well as Russia’s biggest domestic energy company, Lukoil, and Russian businessman and a former executive at Gazprom, Alexander Ryazanov, among others. Now that Yandex has cut ties with Russia, it will be able to grow and partner more freely given the sanctions affecting businesses with Russian ties following the invasion of Ukraine.

Since the war, Yandex has faced repercussions such as removal from Nasdaq. Its founder, Arkady Volozh, faced European Union sanctions in the summer of 2022 due to the company reportedly supporting Russian propaganda. The company soon sold its news aggregation service, and Volozh openly condemned the war.

Reports that Yandex would cut ties with Russia first emerged in late 2022. At the time, the company was facing sanction repercussions and was rumored to have no path forward to grow projects without Western technology. However, it took a year and a half of negotiations between Yandex and the Kremlin (a necessary step) for Yandex NV to be allowed to separate from its Russian businesses. The final deal came with at least a 50 percent discount, a customary practice when the Kremlin deems the registered country — in this case, the Netherlands — unfriendly.

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