Is this a case of sour grapes? After a major tie up between Russia’s most valuable digital company Yandex and the state-owned retail banking giant Sberbank to create an online marketplace fell to pieces, Yandex has announced that it is getting into bed with the state’s second biggest bank VTB bank to create a fintech service to sell equities and funds to retail investors.
The new portal will provide financial services and is called Yandex.Investment that it is creating with VTB, The Bell reported on September 13 citing unnamed banking sources.
Potential closer cooperation between Yandex and VTB will be closely watched.
As bne IntelliNews reported a joint venture between Sberbank and Yandex to create an e-commerce powerhouse Yandex.Market broke up in divorce. E-commerce already accounted for 4.8% of Russia’s retail trade in 2018 but is now growing exponentially and is forecast to top 8.5% by 2024. Yandex.Market should have been a big part of that.
Sberbank, a digital innovation front runner, recently delivered a blow to Yandex by teaming up with its largest rival Mail.ru on transportation and delivery solutions instead.
Partnership with Yandex could also help VTB with its recent pledge to catch up with Sberbank in terms of digital development.
Yandex.Investment with VTB will reportedly be company's largest fintech project since Yandex sold 75% in its Yandex.Money to Sberbank. The new service will target non-professional retail investors, providing access to equity, securities, and other financial instruments, which could meet regulatory resistance.
Together with Sberbank, Yandex still operates Yandex.Market marketplace, one of the largest investments in the Russian e-commerce space. Sberbank also preferred Rambler Group to Yandex as the main media platform for its growing digital ecosystem.
Yandex.Investment case appeared under threat from hostile moves from Sberbank state-controlled bank, while both Mail.ru and Yandex could be threatened by the bill introduced to State Duma targeting foreign ownership in "significant" internet companies.
Last month BCS Global Markets argued both Yandex and Mail.ru investment cases are still strong, due to improvements in 2Q19 (despite macro and ad market headwinds) and value-accretive M&As.