The company that’s often called “Russia’s Google,” Yandex, is leaving its home country. Its parent company, based in the Netherlands, sold the Russian branch for 475 billion roubles (which is about $5.2 billion or £4.2 billion). This price was much lower than what people thought the company was worth.

The sale means that Yandex’s operations in Russia are now fully owned by Russian investors. Some people have criticized Yandex before for not sharing information about the war in Ukraine with Russian people.

The government in Moscow is happy about this deal. They say it’s the result of a long time of planning and talking, over 18 months. One Russian politician said that they wanted this to happen a few years ago, to keep Yandex from being taken over by big Western companies.

The withdrawal from its home country comes amid a broader exodus of foreign businesses from Russia, prompted by geopolitical uncertainties and regulatory constraints. The move underscores the challenges faced by multinational corporations operating in politically volatile environments.

Yandex started in the late 1990s when the internet was booming. It made its own search engine, maps, and ads, and even offered services like taxis and food delivery.

The $5.2 billion deal is much lower than what Yandex was worth a few years ago, around $30 billion in 2021. Even though people call Yandex “Russia’s Google,” it’s not connected to the big American search engine company, Google.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, many foreign businesses have left the country, sometimes selling things for less than they’re worth. The Russian president also took over some companies, like parts of Danone and Carlsberg.

One of Yandex’s co-founders, Arkady Volozh, has spoken out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Because of this, the European Union put sanctions on him and Yandex. He’s trying to get those sanctions removed, saying he’s not close to Russian President Putin.

To follow Russia’s rules about what can be on the internet, Yandex sold some of its online stuff to a company called VK, which the government controls. Even though Yandex says it’s separate from the government, a test in 2022 showed that it didn’t report bad things Russia did in Ukraine.

The departure of ‘Russia’s Google’ from its birthplace marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in the company’s evolution.

Published: 06th Feb 2024

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