Uber, Yandex in $3.7bn merger deal - TechCentral

Uber, Yandex in $3.7bn merger deal

Uber Technologies is handing over the keys to its business in Russia.

The San Francisco-based company and Yandex  are merging their ride-hailing businesses in Russia. Uber will invest US$225m and take a 36.6% stake in a new, yet-to-be named venture that will be valued at $3.7bn, the companies said in a statement on Thursday. The shares of Yandex, which will invest $100m and own 59.3% of the new enterprise, jumped as much as 15% in Moscow to 1 881 rubles, its highest level ever.

The deal with Yandex is Uber’s second retreat from a major market. Last year, Uber left China in exchange for a 17.5% stake in rival Didi Chuxing, after losing more than $2bn battling its competitor. While Uber remains the dominant ride-hailing operator in the US, it has been on the defensive, beset by scandals that led to Travis Kalanick’s ouster as CEO. The agreement with Yandex is part of Uber’s renewed effort to improve revenue, narrow losses and resolve its legal issues.

“This deal is a testament to our exceptional growth in the region and helps Uber continue to build a sustainable global business,” Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s chief for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in the statement.

Tigran Khudaverdyan, head of Yandex.Taxi in Russia, will become CEO of the combined enterprise, Uber and Yandex said. Together, their businesses handle 35m rides a month, and will also operate in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus and Georgia. The deal is expected to close in the last three months of 2017.

Uber’s exit from Russia could be a precursor to more deals in other big, fiercely competitive ride-hailing markets. Investors have raised questions as recently as this month about Uber’s continued losses in India and Southeast Asia, asking privately whether the company would be better served by cutting deals with market leaders Ola and Grab, two people familiar with the matter said.

Losses

Uber’s loss before interest, taxes and stock-based compensation totaled $708m in the first three months of the year, an improvement from the $991m loss in the prior quarter. Losses narrowed further in the latest period, Uber recently told investors. Net revenue was $1.5bn in the first quarter, according to its more conservative accounting method.

In Russia, Yandex.Taxi has gross bookings of $1bn on an annualised basis, while Uber had $566m, according to a presentation prepared for investors. The new, unnamed company “will have the right to use Yandex.Taxi and Uber brands in the region”, the companies said. Apps from both ride-hailing companies will continue to be offered, while the driver app will become a single platform. They will also operate the UberEats food-delivery service.

“Many of us who work inside Yandex feel that everyone has already switched to ride-sharing, but in reality, we are just at the beginning of this journey,” Khudaverdyan wrote in a blog post.  — Reported by Eric Newcomer, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP