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Yandex has received bids from Russian billionaires

Nasdaq-listed Yandex, often dubbed “Russia’s Google”, has received bids from Russian billionaires for assets it is seeking to divest in the country that value them at some $14 billion, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Vladimir Potanin, CEO and the largest shareholder of metals giant Nornickel, and Vagit Alekperov, co-founder and a major shareholder of oil major Lukoil, are among the bidders, the sources said.

Given Kremlin measures that oblige foreign companies leaving Russia to sell their assets at a 50% discount, Yandex’s Dutch-registered holding company Yandex NV – whose shareholders are mostly Western investment funds – could ultimately make some $7 billion from a full divestment, they said.

“Potanin and Alekperov are two sizeable names in the mix right now, and those two are being strongly contemplated,” one of the sources said. “But there are several other people still being considered.”

Other potential bidders include Severstal’s main shareholder Alexey Mordashov and state-owned bank VTB, two of the sources said.

Interested parties include former Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and businessman Alexander Abramov, they added.

Yandex, whose Moscow-listed shares were trading 9.4% higher as of 1550 GMT, declined to comment. Interros, an investment holding company Potanin controls, declined to comment. Alekperov could not immediately be reached for comment.

A representative for Mordashov declined to comment, while Abramov and VTB representatives did not immediately respond to requests. A person close to Abramovich said the information about his interest in buying a stake was not true.

Since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Yandex, while not itself under sanctions, has struggled to balance domestic pressure with the interests of its Western investors.

Yandex NV is divesting its main revenue-generating businesses inside Russia and developing four newer units internationally. Reuters

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