Yandex’s parent company, known as “Russian Google”, wants to cut ties with the country

The parent company of Russia’s biggest tech company, Yandex, wants to sever ties with the country to protect its new ventures from the fallout from the war in Ukraine, a potential setback for President Vladimir V. Putin’s efforts to develop technologies. local substitutes for high-tech Western goods and services that have been stifled by sanctions.

In a radical overhaul, the Dutch holding company of Yandex – often referred to as “Russian Google” – would transfer its most promising new technologies to markets outside Russia and sell its established business in the country, including a browser Popular internet and food delivery. and taxi apps, according to two people familiar with the matter who would not speak publicly due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

The company’s plan aims to protect itself from its domestic market and highlights the stifling impact of Western sanctions on Russia’s once-thriving tech sector.

People familiar with the matter said the war in Ukraine had made the development of new Yandex technologies, such as self-driving cars, machine learning and cloud services, unviable. These companies, which require access to Western markets, experts and technology, would fail if they remained associated with Russia, one added.

Yandex’s Russian subsidiary would continue to offer the same products in the country under the new owners, the second person familiar with the matter said.

It is unclear whether Yandex’s plan will go ahead. The company needs Kremlin approval to transfer technology licenses registered in Russia outside the country, one of the people said. It should also find buyers, most likely in Russia, for its business, and the overall restructuring plan should be approved by Yandex shareholders.

Yandex’s plan is backed by Aleksei Kudrin, the Russian government’s chief auditor and a longtime confidant of Mr Putin. Mr. Kudrin, one of the few prominent economic liberals still in the Russian government, acts for the company informally, but is expected to take on a leadership role in the future.

Mr. Kudrin is expected to meet with Mr. Putin this week to discuss Yandex’s future and other matters, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov said Thursday he had no information about such a meeting.

Yandex declined to comment. The Accounts Chamber of Russia, Mr. Kudrin’s employer, did not respond to a request for comment.

The company’s restructuring plan was first reported by Russian business media The Bell.

Western efforts to economically isolate Russia after its invasion of Ukraine have devastated this once-thriving business. The price of Yandex shares traded in Moscow plunged 62% last year. Shares of the New York-listed company lost more than $20 billion before the Nasdaq stock exchange suspended trading following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Thousands of over 18,000 Yandex employees have left Russia since the invasion began. In March, the company’s then-deputy general manager, Tigran Khudaverdyan, challenged the Kremlin line, calling it a “monstrous war” in a Facebook post.

To distance itself from the political fallout from the war, Yandex in August sold its online news aggregator, which had become filled with state propaganda due to Russia’s increasingly draconian media laws that ban criticism of the war.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Mr Khudaverdyan in March for Yandex’s role in promoting the Kremlin’s war narrative. Its boss, Israel-based company founder Arkady Volozh, was hit with sanctions by the bloc several months later. Both have resigned from the company to allow it to continue operating in Europe.

nytimes Eur

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