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Russia Revises Yandex Partition Terms Over Founder’s Anti-War Stance – Reports

Yandex co-founder Arkady Volozh. Alexander Miridonov / Kommersant

The Russian government has lowered the payout offered in the restructuring of tech giant Yandex following anti-war statements made by the company's co-founder, Russian media reported Friday. 

Sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine have forced Yandex, once the crown jewel of Russia's tech sector, to split into two new companies, with one overseeing its operations in Russia and a second Amsterdam-based firm that will focus on new technologies for the international market.

The Dutch-registered entity Yandex N.V. hopes to sell its stakes in the main revenue-generating business in Russia, but no clear buyers have emerged, and the deal must ultimately be signed off by the Kremlin. 

Russia’s state commission on foreign investment had initially approved a $250-million payoff to Yandex N.V., according to the business news outlets Frank Media and Kommersant, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the negotiations. 

“The deal was discussed and approved, but the paperwork was not finalized,” said one source quoted by Frank Media.

The commission then cut Yandex N.V.’s payout to around $70-80 million after Yandex co-founder Arkady Volozh in early August condemned the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the publications.

“After [Volozh’s] post, Digital Development Minister Maksut Shadayev suggested putting the payment and approval of the deal on hold,” Frank Media’s source said.

Russia's state commission on foreign investment “pays attention to the foreign policy backdrop” when considering divestment deals, an anonymous government official told Frank Media.

Kommersant said anonymous sources close to the Russian government and the state commission confirmed the revised terms of Yandex's partition.

Neither Volozh, Yandex nor the Russian government have commented on either of the two reports.

Volozh, who has lived in Israel since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, resigned as Yandex CEO last year after coming under EU sanctions.

Brussels last month extended the sanctions against him despite his legal efforts to have them lifted.

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