Five Russia-affiliated internet companies are to be formally delisted from U.S. stock exchanges, a year after trading was halted in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The most prominent of the quintet is Yandex, a 25-year-old tech company often called “The Google of Russia,” owing to its products spanning search, e-commerce, advertising, maps, transportation and more.
Yandex first went public on Nasdaq in May, 2011, via a parent holding company called Yandex N.V. that’s registered in the Netherlands. This was followed by a secondary listing on the Moscow Exchange three years later. Yandex had been performing well as a public company, reaching an all-time high in November, 2021, with a market cap of $31 billion. In the months that followed, Yandex’s shares went into freefall as Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine, leading Nasdaq to put a temporary halt on trading in February, 2022.
Many Western companies suspended operations in Russia in early 2022 due to sanctions, while Yandex CEO and founder Arkady Volozh left the company last June after he was included on a list of sanctions issued by the European Union.
To protect its remaining interests, Yandex has been divesting some of its properties, including offloading its news service to a rival with close ties to the Russian State. And back in November, Yandex announced plans for a corporate restructuring that would distance itself from its Russian roots through further divestments, while leveraging its existing international presence in areas such as self-driving cars and cloud computing.
Yandex also noted that it would likely re-brand its Dutch holding company, though this has yet to come to fruition.
However, Yandex wasn’t the only Russian company impacted by geopolitical turmoil. Nasdaq last year halted trading in online recruitment platform HeadHunter; e-commerce player Ozon, which has been called the Amazon of Russia; and Russian fintech Qiwi, which claims an official headquarters in Cyprus. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), meanwhile, halted trading in Russian real estate database company Cian, which also is officially based in Cyprus.
Yesterday, Nasdaq alerted its four companies that delisting proceedings were underway, with Yandex, HeadHunter, Ozon and Qiwi‘s delisting-day scheduled for March 24. The NYSE also notified Cian, though a date wasn’t provided.
Nasdaq’s rules around delisting procedures state that it can do so “…based on any event, condition, or circumstance that exists or occurs that makes initial or continued listing of the securities inadvisable or unwarranted in its opinion, even though the securities meet all enumerated criteria for initial or continued listing on Nasdaq.”
However, there is also an official appeals process in place. Companies facing a delisting process can request a hearing from an advisory committee that’s appointed by Nasdaq’s board of directors, and companies wishing to do so have seven days after receiving their delisting notice.
Yandex has said that it will appeal the decision, while Ozon has confirmed that it’s filing an appeal too. HeadHunter, Qiwi, and Cian have all subsequently confirmed that they too are appealing against the decision to delist them.*
*This article was updated on March 22 to confirm that Qiwi, Cian, and HeadHunter are also appealing against the delisting decisions.