May 28, 2022

Russian internet giant Yandex has told investors it is exploring “strategic alternatives” for its media products, including a potential sale of its news aggregator Yandex News and recommender user-generated content and an “infotainment” platform called Zen. .

The disclosure confirms our coverage earlier this week, when sources told us that Yandex was in talks to sell Yandex News and Zen.

Our sources suggested that the move comes with the risks of tightening the Russian state’s rules on free speech as it waged war in Ukraine, including a new law that would allow “false” information about it. The Russian army disperses. (for example, referring to the “war” in Ukraine rather than the Kremlin’s preferred wording of “special military operations”).

In a statement to its investors, Yandex wrote that it is “exploring a number of strategic options, including reducing investment in its news aggregation service and Zen infotainment platform.”

“The company plans to focus on developing its other technology businesses and products (including search, advertising, self-driving and cloud services) and transactional services (including taxi booking, e-commerce, video/audio and streaming). . “, it added.

A Yandex spokesperson confirmed that negotiations are underway to sell News and Zen.

“We confirm that the company is exploring several strategic options, including deinvesting in its news gathering service and Zen infotainment platform,” he added.

The company has not made any public comments about potential media buyers, but sources close to the discussion have previously told us that Russian social media giant VKontakte is a top contender.

In forward-looking statements to investors, Yandex suggested that the divestment process was “in its early stages” and warned its investors that it “cannot guarantee it will find a buyer, agree on acceptable terms, or complete the transaction.” closure.”

The Russian company, registered in the Netherlands, ceased operations on February 25, when its market capitalization reached $6.8 billion.

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