Yandex N.V., Russia's leading technology company, on Tuesday said that its Russian operating subsidiary agreed to sell its news aggregator, Zen infotainment service, and homepage to rival Vkontakte (VK), a large Russian social media business. The move will further limit access to independent media.
In exchange, Yandex will acquire 100% of the food delivery service Delivery Club.
Russian’s state-owned bank Gazprombank and insurance company Sogaz became the controlling interest -- at 57.3% -- of VK shares and assumed control of the social site in December 2021.
Yandex said that ya.ru will become Yandex’s main page and entry point into Search, Mail and other non-media services. The company will also launch a new application for Android called Yandex with Alice.
The main service for Yandex's new main page ya.ru and new application, Yandex with Alice, becomes the company’s search engine.
When the transaction closes, the main application for Android will transition its name to Yandex Start.
Yandex Start will become the company’s browser where users can choose the start page in their settings. The Yandex app for iOS will continue to work as before, but without News and Zen.
Yandex's board and management, which approved the transaction, believes the sale is in the best interest of the company’s stakeholders and will continue to focus on other technologies and services such as search, advertising, online-to-offline transactional businesses and a number of B2B technology businesses, and more.
Delivery Club will become a part of Yandex’s ecommerce, mobility and delivery service -- a place where users can access Yandex Eats and Delivery Club apps. Couriers, working with Delivery Club will join the Yandex Pro technological platform.
VK will rename Yandex’s main page with News and Zen to dzen.ru.
"We are buying our freedom," a source close to Yandex told Reuters. "This business had been such a weight on our feet. "This will enable us to do our business significantly depoliticized, practically completely depoliticized."
Data cited by Reuters, per the Yandex analytics tool, suggests Yandex dominates Russia's online search market with a share of around 62%. Radar. Google accounts for about 36%, with VK's mail.ru at less than 1%.
Yandex was created by Arkady Volozh. He still holds 8.6% stake in the company, with 45.3% of the voting rights.