Yandex receives bids for stakes in Russia-based businesses

By Alexander Marrow

(Reuters) – Nasdaq-listed Yandex on Thursday said it had received proposals from a number of investors for stakes in its Russia-based businesses, as it progresses a restructuring process that will see the company spin-off some assets.

Since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Yandex, while not itself under sanctions, has struggled to balance domestic pressure with the interests of its Western investors, and is now divesting its main revenue-generating businesses inside Russia and developing four newer units internationally.

Russian billionaires including Vladimir Potanin, CEO and the largest shareholder of metals giant Nornickel, and Vagit Alekperov, co-founder and a major shareholder in oil major Lukoil, are among the bidders for assets ultimately valued at around $14 billion, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

“The proposals are for the acquisition of an economic interest in the businesses, with control remaining in the hands of management,” Yandex said in a statement. “Our goal is to bring a restructuring proposal to shareholders for approval later this year.”

The company’s Moscow-listed shares were 4.5% higher by 1449 GMT, approaching a more than one-year high.

Yandex, which did not name any bidders, said the board was analysing numerous options that could potentially be offered to shareholders but had made no decision so far.

Russian state-owned bank VTB on Tuesday said it was interested in buying a stake in Yandex.

Any deal requires shareholder and Kremlin approval. Yandex said any transaction would be done in strict compliance with all applicable sanctions requirements.

The Kremlin obliges foreign companies leaving Russia to sell their assets at a 50% discount. Yandex’s holding company, Yandex NV, is registered in the Netherlands.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; additional reporting by Caleb Davis; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)