Yandex has sold its assets in Russia to a consortium of investors for $5.2bn, but has retained control of its international operations, including a data center in Finland.

The Nasdaq-listed tech giant, which has in the past been referred to as “Russia’s Google,” has been looking for an exit strategy since the war in Ukraine broke out two years ago.

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– WikiFido/Wikimedia

While the company, which provides a search engine and a range of digital services including ride-hailing and food delivery in Russia, is seen as a national strategic asset by the Kremlin, its holding company, Yandex NV, is based in the Netherlands, and most of its shareholders reside in the West.

As reported by DCD, in 2022 Yandex started a strategic review of its operations, with a view to cutting ties with Russia. Today it confirmed a group known as Consortium.First, which is led by Yandex’s management team in Russia and backed by four investment funds - Argonaut, Infinity Management, IT Elaboration, and Meridian-Servis - will acquire the company’s Russia business unit for $5.2bn.

John Boynton, chairman of Yandex NV, said the company had “faced exceptional challenges” since the war in Ukraine broke out.

Boynton said: “We believe that we have found the best possible solution for our shareholders, our teams, and our users in these extraordinary circumstances.

“The proposed transaction will allow shareholders to recover some value for the businesses that we are divesting, while unlocking new growth potential for the international businesses we will retain and enabling the divested businesses to operate under new ownership.”

He added: Yandex is a unique story. I am proud to have been a part of that story since the very beginning, and I am proud to be part of the next chapter. We believe that the proposed sale will position both parts of the current group to develop and grow for the benefit of their stakeholders.”

Yandex NV is likely to be renamed when the deal is complete. It will retain control of a portfolio of investments it has made in companies outside Russia, including its stake in Nebius AI, a cloud platform that provides GPU capacity to businesses in Europe.

It will also continue to operate a data center in Finland, and retain the services of the company’s 1,300 staff based outside Russia.

Yandex also operates five data centers in Russia. The newest of these, a 63MW site in Kaluga Oblast, 200 miles south of Moscow, was due to come online last year. Its four other facilities are based in Vladimir, Sasovo, Ivanteevka, and Mytishchi.