This content was produced in Russia where the law
coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.
(Adds detail throughout, quotes)
MOSCOW, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Russian internet giant
Yandex's Dutch holding company on Friday said it
planned to divest ownership and control of most of Yandex Group,
with the international divisions of some services to be
developed outside Russia.
Since Russia launched what it calls a "special military
operation" in Ukraine in late February, Nasdaq-listed Yandex,
often referred to as "Russia's Google", has grappled with
domestic pressure on one side and its Western investors on the
other, prompting speculation about its future.
Dutch-registered Yandex N.V. said in a statement it was
reviewing options to "restructure the group's ownership and
governance in light of the current geopolitical environment".
Yandex's Moscow-listed shares fell 4.8%.
The announcement came hours after Russian President Vladimir
Putin and former finance minister Alexei Kudrin addressed
Yandex's future in a late-night meeting, three people familiar
with the matter told Reuters.
Sources told Reuters that Kudrin, a long-time colleague of
the president, is expected to leave his role as head of Russia's
Audit Chamber to take up a position with Yandex. One of the
sources said that could happen in the coming weeks.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he could not confirm
whether the meeting had taken place or not. The Audit Chamber
declined to comment.
"Kudrin is someone who the company feel is a good person to
navigate this because he is liberal enough to understand that
Russia needs a private internet company, free from
nationalisation, and who has credibility in Putin's eyes," one
of the sources said.
Another source, close to Kudrin, said: "This is the best
option for the company, which can provide it with maximum
business neutrality. On the one hand, to continue developing in
the country ... and on the other, not to lie under state
Almost 88% of Yandex's ownership structure is free-float,
with many Western funds among shareholders.
Yandex has faced criticism this year for complying with
Russian law in restricting access to online resources banned by
the state. In February, Yandex, which has denied being complicit
in censorship, started warning Russian users seeking information
about events in Ukraine of unreliable information online.
The Russian government in September tightened its grip on
the internet, when Yandex sold its news feed and homepage to
state-controlled rival VK.
Yandex N.V. said the strategic process was at a preliminary
stage and that any changes would ultimately require shareholder
approval. The board expects Yandex N.V. to be renamed in due
course, with the business to be divested retaining exclusive
rights for the use of the Yandex brand.
The company has set up a special committee charged with
exploring various scenarios, including developing the
international divisions of Yandex's self-driving technologies
cloud computing, data labelling, and edtech independently from
The Dutch parent said it would seek to divest ownership and
control of all Yandex Group's other businesses, which include
the company's dominant search and advertising unit, as well as
ride-hailing and e-commerce.
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow, Darya Korsunskaya and Polina
Devitt; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)