Russia’s internet giant Yandex has told investors it’s exploring “strategic options” for its media products — including a potential sale of its news aggregator, Yandex News, and a user-generated content recommendation and blogging “infotainment” platform, called Zen.
The disclosure confirms our reporting earlier this week — when sources told us Yandex is in discussions to sell Yandex News and Zen.
Our sources suggested the move is linked to the risks posed by tighter regulations on freedom of expression by the Russian state since it went to war in Ukraine, including a new law which threatens lengthy jail sentences for anyone spreading “false” information about the Russian military (such as by referring to the “war” in Ukraine, rather than using the Kremlin’s preferred phrasing of “special military operation”).
In a statement to its investors today, Yandex writes that it is “exploring different strategic options, including divestment, for its news aggregation service and infotainment platform Zen”.
“The company intends to focus on developing its other technology-related businesses and products (including search, advertising, self-driving and cloud) and transactional services (including ride-hailing, e-commerce, video/audio and streaming), among others,” it added.
A spokesperson for Yandex confirmed it is in talks to divest News and Zen.
“We confirm that the company is exploring different strategic options, including divestment, for the news aggregation service and infotainment platform Zen,” they said.
The company has not made public comments about potential buyers for the media products, but sources close to the discussions told us earlier that Russian social media giant VK is a leading contender.
In forward-looking statements to investors, Yandex suggested the divestment process is “at an early stage”, also cautioning its investors that it “can provide no assurance that it will be successful in identifying a buyer, negotiating acceptable terms or closing a transaction”.
The Netherlands-registered Russian company halted trading on February 25, when its market cap was at $6.8 billion.