The Russian search engine company Yandex was once considered the star of the Russian web economy, but then came the Putin regime’s attack on Ukraine. Yandex’s leadership is now trying to save what can be saved and seeks salvation primarily outside of Russia.
Yandex has long been referred to as the Russian Google, and that was not only an auxiliary term for the fact that its core business is a search engine but also due to its success and broad portfolio of services.
But everything has changed with the Russian attack on Ukraine, and according to the Reuters news agency, the Dutch holding company of Yandex (Yandex NV) recently announced that it intends to divest ownership and control of most of the Yandex group. The international departments of some services are to be developed outside of Russia in the future.
With this “escape” to the West, Yandex naturally wants to protect various sectors from the sanctions. The background here is a meeting between Vladimir Putin and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. The latter is to take over the Yandex leadership in Russia. A Putin confidant is likely to take over the top position at Yandex, which in turn makes the company even more vulnerable to Western sanctions.
From a Russian perspective, Kudrin is a good choice, an insider told Reuters: “Kudrin is someone the company believes is the right person to run this because he’s liberal enough to understand that Russia is a private internet company needs that must not be nationalized and that Putin believes is credible.”
Mostly in Western hands
Yandex has little choice in Russia other than a balancing act: because the domestic business does not reflect economic reality. Because around 88 percent of the company is in free float, with many western funds being among the shareholders. They also have to be satisfied, and Yandex NV writes in a press release that they want to “develop international departments for certain services (including self-driving technologies, cloud computing, data labeling, and educational technology) independently of Russia”.
Also planned is the “sale of Yandex NV’s ownership and control over all other business areas of Yandex Group (including search and advertising, mobility, e-commerce, food delivery, delivery, entertainment services, and others in Russia and international markets), including the Delegate certain elements of corporate governance to management.”
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