Yandex will pro-yandex investors, by Yulia Yurasova, Dmitry Mikhailovich for Kommersant. 05.20.2023.
Vladimir Potanin and Vagit Alekperov may acquire a controlling stake in the Russian company.
Billionaires Vladimir Potanin and Vagit Alekperov are interested in buying a controlling stake in the Russian Yandex, the company is already considering the offer, Bloomberg reported. Analysts believe that the deal will be closed in late 2023 or early 2024 and could negatively affect Yandex offices abroad, since both businessmen are under sanctions.
Yandex received an offer to buy a controlling stake in the company from the owner of Interros and the head of the MMC Norilsk Nickel, Vladimir Potanin, and the founder of LUKOIL, Vagit Alekperov, on May 19, Bloomberg reported . The interlocutors of the publication estimate the Russian assets of the company at about $ 7-7.5 billion. According to agency sources, Vladimir Potanin and Vagit Alekperov expect to receive at least 51% of Yandex shares. It is specified that the board of the parent company Yandex NV located in the Netherlands will discuss this proposal next week, during a meeting in Dubai. Yandex, Interros and LUKOIL declined to comment.
At the end of November, 2022 "Yandex" announced possible changes in corporate structure. The company intended to leave only a part of the group's business, in particular, international projects in the field of cloud technologies, to the head structure of Yandex NV. Most of the group's services, including search and advertising, were planned to be given to the new group of companies.
As of May 19, 2023, the Arkady Volozh Family Trust owns 8.5% (45.1% of votes) of the capital of the Yandex NV shareholding structure (the parent company of Yandex), other directors, officers and employees own 3.2% (6 .6% of votes). Shares in free float account for 87.9% of the capital (46.5% of votes). The owners before the IPO own 0.3% of the capital (1.8% of the votes).
Earlier, The Bell (included by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in the list of foreign agents) reported, citing its sources, about the upcoming change in the corporate structure of Yandex. Allegedly, the current head of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin and Yandex NV structures will be among the shareholders of the new parent company. In December last year, Mr. Kudrin left the department and moved to Yandex as a corporate development adviser.
This year the company expects to present a plan for the separation of Russian and international assets. It was assumed that the Dutch Yandex NV, of which Arkady Volozh is a shareholder, would establish a Russian structure in which it would own a 100% stake, followed by registration in a special administrative region of Kaliningrad, RBC reported in March. According to the sources of the publication, the composition of investors has not yet been determined, but the company's managers insist on attracting private businessmen and have formed a preliminary list of those with whom they would be ready to start negotiations on entering the capital of the "Russian Yandex". Then it included Vagit Alekperov and his partner in LUKOIL Leonid Fedun, co-owner of Severstal, Nord Gold and Lenta Alexei Mordashov, as well as Vladimir Potanin and the main owner of the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK) Viktor Rashnikov.
The purchase of a controlling stake in Yandex by billionaires from the sanctions lists Vladimir Potanin and Vagit Alekperov should not affect users: most of the team and data centers are located on the territory of the Russian Federation, says Sergey Glandin, a lawyer and partner at the NSP Law Office. “The baseline scenario is the closing of the deal at the end of 2023 - the beginning of 2024, it will take time at least to go through all the approvals,” Timur Nigmatullin, senior investment consultant at Finam, believes. According to him, in Russia such transactions are concluded as part of an individual approach “based on the owner”.
The deal may affect Yandex's offices in Switzerland, the Netherlands or the Czech Republic, Mr. Glandin believes.
“By virtue of their compliance policies, Western partners and counterparties may stop working for Yandex or providing services to it as a sub-sanctioned company (according to the 50+ rule, all companies of sub-sanctioned persons are considered to be equally sub-sanctioned),” he explained.
However, investors took the news about the possible purchase of Yandex with optimism. During the trading session on the Moscow Exchange, the quotes of the company's shares grew by more than 12%, according to the results of the main trading session, the growth was 9.4%. In terms of trading volume - 13.3 billion rubles, twice as much as for Sberbank shares - Yandex shares became the absolute leader on May 19.