Yandex Seeks Putin's Approval For Business Restructuring: Report

  • Yandex N.V. YNDX, often described as “Russia’s Google,” sought Vladimir Putin’s permission to sell its operations in the country, spin off its main international projects and appoint a longtime confidant of the Russian president to manage its relationship with the Kremlin.
  • Yandex informally enlisted top economic official Alexei Kudrin to win the Russian president’s approval, in principle, for the restructuring plan, Financial Times reports.
  • The changes would lead to Yandex’s Dutch holding company exiting the Russian market by selling its entire business apart from the international divisions of four critical units.
  • Yandex aimed to spare itself from the disastrous consequences of Putin’s war in Ukraine, which has prompted several thousand Yandex staffers to flee the country.
  • Yandex hopes the restructuring plan will save its most promising new international ventures, including self-driving cars, cloud computing, education technology, and data labeling, by ending their ties to the toxic Russian market.
  • Yandex also hopes Kudrin will secure a future for its far larger Russian business when the Kremlin is vastly increasing the state’s control over the economy and the internet amid a mass exodus of foreign companies.
  • Kudrin and Putin have worked together since their days in the St Petersburg mayor’s administration.
  • Like many of Russia’s top economic officials, Kudrin privately opposes the war.
  • Arkady Volozh, the company’s founder who lives in Israel, is also horrified by the war and has not returned to Russia since it began.
  • Yandex’s Russian business reportedly needs the new deal to ensure it remains in private hands.
  • Kudrin and Yandex have discussed the official assuming a small equity stake and taking on an undefined role heading up Yandex’s governance. 
  • Yandex’s Russian management will retain control of the company’s day-to-day operations but delegate the company’s increasingly sensitive relations with the Kremlin to Kudrin.
  • Several Kremlin-friendly Russian oligarchs have expressed interest in a stake in Yandex.
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