Co-founder of the IT giant Arkady Volozh is looking for a way to sell it
Arkady Volozh sent a loud statement to the press condemning the Russian special operation in Ukraine. This happened against the backdrop of a protracted deal to buy the Russian part of Yandex from him.
Thus, the stakes in the negotiations about the fate of Yandex have been raised: now it is necessary either to declare Yandex a foreign agent or pay Volozh for his shares.
“Our Version” informedthat Aleksey Kudrin’s proposals regarding Yandex have dubious prospects. As an adviser on corporate development of the company, he was supposed to be engaged in “development of the corporate structure of the new holding.” Simply put, Kudrin had to find new shareholders in Russia for the company so that Yandex could “divorce” Arkady Volozh, who moved to Israel back in 2014.
At first, it might have seemed that the Russian oligarchs would take over Yandex in the same way that they bought Russian industry in the late 1990s. Alexei Kudrin then worked in the administration of President Yeltsin and probably knows all the alignments within the oligarchic clans. However, there was a problem: Yandex turned out to be unlike the plants and factories built by the Soviet Union. It will not be possible to control it by simply placing private security fighters at the checkpoint. Moreover, Yandex reserves some of the promising foreign assets. Of what could be in the perimeter of the transaction, it has already partially gone to VK – this is Zen and news. What is left may face additional regulation from the state, as well as a lack of competent developers. The situation is complicated by a strange scheme, where Alexei Kudrin planned to receive 5% of the shares for coordinating the deal. Such a share can be estimated at more than $340 million. But the main thing is that if the idea of distributing the remaining shares among many owners is implemented, even such a small stake would give the former head of the Accounts Chamber significant corporate power over the search engine.
Yes, the names of possible buyers of Yandex have already merged into the Network. A short list of potential co-owners looks like this: Vladimir Potanin, Alexei Mordashov, Vagit Alekperov, VTB Bank. But no progress has been made in the negotiations since May. On the contrary, there were rumors that they were bogged down.
Some potential buyers were not ready to part with money for a minor role in the company. And the head of VTB, Andrei Kostin, did not share the liberal approach to buyback at prices close to the market. We have a presidential decree for 50% (meaning the requirement for a discount when foreign investors withdraw from Russian assets), but here we are talking about a market deal, to American investors, for taking everything from us … It should be according to the Fortum scheme act, take them under control and return them when the sanctions end,” Kostin said in June.
It is not entirely clear who Andrey Kostin called American investors. The main owner of Yandex shares is Yandex NV, registered in the Netherlands. This company operates the Russian “Yandex” and is controlled by Arkady Volozh. It is not known exactly what price Volozh wants to receive for his share. But Yandex shares have halved since 2021, and the reasons here, of course, are not the poor performance of the company, but the political conditions in which it finds itself. (Note that since June, the share price has been growing, this may indicate that someone is actively buying them, and these may be parties to the negotiations who want to strengthen their positions).
Obviously, after Andrey Kostin mentioned the example of Fortum, the prospects for getting money for his share for Arkady Volozh faded. In addition, it is clear that allowing Volozh to withdraw billions of dollars from Russia against the background of the collapse of the ruble exchange rate would be a rash decision. You don’t have to be an economic luminary to understand that a deal with Volozh at a market price could sink the ruble much deeper than current levels.
It is not surprising that in the current situation, the co-founder of Yandex went for broke. He issued a statement condemning the SVO. “The world has changed, and I realized that my story with Yandex is over,” the text says.
Its course is basically predictable. After the end of July from under British sanctions came out banker Oleg Tinkov, who condemned the SVO, the Russian oligarchs had a certain fairway: in order to unfreeze their accounts and real estate in the West, they must get rid of business in Russia and publish critical statements. Recall that Tinkov sold the bank he founded “for 3% of the fair price.” Will Arkady Volozh be able to get at least something for Yandex now?