Yandex to sell its media products to VKontakte

Yandex announced it is going to sell its news aggregation platform and infotainment service Zen to VKontakte (VK).

In a vague press release, Yandex, often dubbed Russian Google, said its Russian subsidiary Yandex LLC has reached an agreement in principle with Russian Facebook analog VK to sell its media business, namely News and Zen.

Yandex itself is registered in the Netherlands, presumably for tax purposes.

“While the parties have come to an agreement in principle on a transaction, they are continuing to discuss certain technical details, which will be announced in due course,” Yandex said.

The deal will need approval from FAS, the Russian anti-monopoly regulator.

In March, Yandex told its investors that it was exploring strategic options for news aggregation service and ZEN, including divestment.

“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 said.

Last year, Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov's company sold 57.3% of VK's voting shares to state-run insurer Sogaz, founded by Gazprom and part-owned by banker Yuri Kovalchuk, a longtime ally of President Vladimir Putin.

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