Yandex and Uber to spin-off autonomous cars into new company

Russia’s largest internet company will invest $150m in the new division

Russian technology firm Yandex and ride hailing company Uber Technologies will spin off the self-driving car unit of their joint venture into a separate company, giving Yandex more control over the businesses and paving the way for new investors.

Russia’s largest internet company will invest $150 million (Dh550.5m) in the new division, Yandex Self-Driving Group, the companies said in a statement on Friday.

It will also purchase part of Uber’s stake, and as a result the Moscow-based company will have 73 per cent ownership of the division, and Uber will have 19 per cent, with the rest reserved for the unit’s management.

Yandex will also contribute its car-sharing business to the joint venture with Uber, which is known as MLU BV and includes ride hailing and food delivery, the companies said in a separate statement.

This will leave Uber with a 33.5 per cent stake in MLU, compared with about 37 per cent as of June 30. Drive, car-sharing service owned by Yandex, has about 16,000 cars across several Russian cities.

The changes will give Yandex more control over the businesses and give it more freedom to develop the technology. Earlier this year, Yandex had been considering buying out Uber’s stake in MLU.

“By spinning off self-driving business Yandex paves the way to attract external investors into it in the future,” Sergey Libin, analyst at Raiffeisenbank in Moscow, said. The restructuring and addition of car-sharing “makes it more attractive for a potential IPO.”

Uber spun-off its self-driving unit last year to attract investors led by SoftBank Group. Alphabet raised $2.25 billion for its Waymo self-driving unit earlier this year after having spun it off in 2016.

A spokeswoman for Yandex declined to comment on possible plans to attract external investors into the self-driving unit.

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