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20 May, 2023 05:23

Billionaires battle for Russian tech giant – Bloomberg

Vladimir Potanin and Vagit Alekperov have reportedly submitted bids for Yandex
Billionaires battle for Russian tech giant – Bloomberg

Businessmen Vladimir Potanin and Vagit Alekperov have offered bids for a controlling stake in Russia’s leading internet company, Yandex, Bloomberg reported on Friday citing sources.

The bids reportedly value Yandex’s assets at nearly $7 billion and will be discussed as soon as next week, when the company’s board meets in Dubai. A final decision may not be reached at the meeting, sources told the agency.

Potanin and Alekperov are reportedly seeking at least a 51% stake in the tech giant’s Russian business, which is said to be valued at up to 600 billion rubles ($7.5 billion).   

That takes into account a Kremlin-mandated 50% discount for foreign companies seeking to exit Russia, sources told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity. 

According to laws that regulate divestment procedures, companies departing Russia are obliged to sell their assets in the country at a 50% discount. Moreover, they must obtain government permission for the sale, and make a mandatory contribution to the Russian budget, amounting to at least 10% of half the market value of their local assets.

The regulation applies to Yandex’s business in Russia as the company is registered in the Netherlands, which Moscow added to a list of hostile states for supporting sanctions on Russia along with other EU members.

Last year, Yandex announced far-reaching plans for a corporate restructuring, under which the firm intended to split its domestic and international businesses. The company is particularly known for its search engine, which is more popular than Google in Russia. It also owns a major share in food delivery and taxi-hailing apps in the country. While Yandex offloaded its news aggregator 2022, it still controls more than 60% of the local search market. 

Yandex has remained profitable despite Western sanctions on Russia, and reported net income of 5.8 billion rubles ($72 million) in the first quarter of the current year. However, trade in the company’s stock has been halted in New York since February 2022, while the Nasdaq is seeking to delist its securities. Yandex’s market capitalization peaked in late 2021 at $29 billion.

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