Number-one Russian internet site and search engine Yandex is selling a nine percent stake to three private equity funds for about $100 million, valuing the firm at $1.1 billion, reports Russia’s Vedomosti paper (via Yakov), citing an investment banker. Yandex has not yet confirmed the report to us.
Is this a prelude to Yandex finally achieving the IPO that it wanted last year, but which it delayed to 2009? Or is it an alternative, raising more capital instead? Yandex had hoped to raise up to $2 billion by floating on the Nasdaq in 2008, valuing it at $5 billion, according to reports at the time (Thomson) – though some analysts considered its value more like $3 billion. Either way, the flotation was delayed to 2009, which is now waning.
UFG Asset Management, Baring Vostok Capital Partners (BVCP) and Tiger Global Management is said to have bought the stake from private investors, including IBS Group’s Oradell Capital, which sold its one percent share for $11 million. Yandex made a profit of over $100 million on $300 million in sales last year, Yakov says.
Unlike other developed countries, the RuNet is still exploding. Last year, online ad sales grew 55 percent to about $475 million and are projected to be worth $4 billion by 2017. Russia’s biggest site according to three metrics agencies, Yandex is in the driving seat.
The site just launched its own version of Google Street View.