By Alexander Marrow and Gleb Stolyarov
MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russian internet giant Yandex on Wednesday beat expectations with a 46% revenue jump for 2022, when it commenced a massive corporate restructuring effort and as the domestic competitive landscape underwent seismic shifts.
Since Russia sent troops into Ukraine almost a year ago, Yandex, often dubbed “Russia’s Google”, has struggled to balance domestic pressure with the interests of Western investors.
Yandex sold its news feed and homepage to state-controlled rival VK last year, in part to try to depoliticise its business, according to a source close to Yandex. Trading in its Nasdaq-listed shares is suspended.
Yandex’s Dutch-registered holding company subsequently announced plans to divest ownership and control of most of Yandex Group, including its main revenue-generating businesses.
Yandex intends to ensure sustainable development over the longer term, restore liquidity for shareholders and preserve opportunities for employees.
Some analysts say the restructuring could lead to enhanced Kremlin influence over some of Russia’s backbone internet services.
Yandex’s 2022 revenue was 521.7 billion roubles ($7.05 billion), against its forecast 500 billion roubles, amid a slight increase in its more than 60% search market dominance.
Alphabet’s Google stopped selling online advertising in Russia last March while keeping some free services available, allowing Yandex to gain market share.
Yandex said investments in ad technologies and products “translated into market share gains amid changes in the competitive landscape”. Domestic competition also intensified.
As part of the VK deal, Yandex acquired food delivery service Delivery Club, helping the gross merchandise volume (GMV) of its e-commerce division’almost double to 308 billion roubles in 2022, it said.
Yandex earmarked e-commerce as a key growth target in 2023.
Sinara Investment Bank said the results, which saw Yandex’s Moscow-listed shares outperform the market, were impressive, but investors were keen on details on its restructuring.
($1 = 74.0500 roubles)
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Gleb Stolyarov; additional reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; editing by Jason Neely, Mark Potter and Bernadette Baum)