Russian Internet search giant Yandex said on Thursday it would sell some of its news and website businesses to state-owned VK, the operator of Russia’s version of Facebook, VK.
VK has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, increasing government control over Russia’s internet market.
In exchange, Yandex will acquire food delivery company DeliveryClub from VK and will now focus on other business areas such as food delivery and ride-hailing services. The valuation of Delivery Club was not disclosed.
VK underwent a major overhaul last year that gave state gas company Gazprom and banker Yuri Kovalchuk, who is close to Putin, more say. The CEO is the son of First Deputy Chief of Staff Kiriyenko.
Yandex posted a loss in the first quarter, and its stock price plummeted to a six-year low. The stock was suspended from trading at the end of February, then resumed trading on the Moscow exchange but remained suspended on the US Nasdaq exchange. In recent years, he has been criticized by freedom of expression activists for complying with government demands, including news distribution, after being threatened with fines from the government.
Russia has tightened its grip on independent media after it invaded Ukraine on February 24.
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