Russia’s Yandex keen to take full control of taxi JV as ride-hailing bounces back

Photo: Reuters

Russian internet giant Yandex is interested in taking full control of its Yandex.Taxi ride-hailing service, a joint venture with Uber which returned to pre-pandemic growth levels in June.

Yandex is talking to Uber about increasing its majority stake in Yandex.Taxi, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Greg Abovsky said on a conference call on Wednesday, although he added that nothing was likely to happen imminently.

Late on Tuesday, Yandex said it planned to terminate its partnership in two joint ventures with Russia’s largest lender Sberbank and raise $800 million to finance future growth.

Once Yandex fully extricates itself from operations with Sberbank, non-compete agreements will cease to apply and the company will have greater flexibility and be free to pursue other opportunities, Abovsky said.

“We’d love to own more of the businesses we already have,” Abovsky said. “That, specifically, would be having a greater stake in Yandex.Taxi, which we are extremely excited about.

“There’s nothing imminent or in the process today, but we are very much interested in increasing that stake and taking full control of that asset.”

Yandex currently owns 61% of Yandex.Taxi, Uber has a 38% stake and Yandex.Taxi’s top management around 1%.

Uber did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Abovsky said the number of rides had fallen by as much as 70% year-on-year in early April as demand plummeted under restrictive measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

However, with restrictions easing, Yandex.Taxi has seen year-on-year growth in the number of rides so far in June.

Before the coronavirus crisis, banking sources told Reuters Yandex was preparing to list Yandex.Taxi on the stock market in the first half of 2020, but Abovsky said such a plan was not currently on the agenda.

Reuters

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
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