Uber, Russian tech firm Yandex to join forces in Eastern Europe

The new company will operate in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

Yandex will take 59,3% of the shares, leaving 36,6% to Uber and 4,1% to the NewCo staff.

In Russia, Yandex.Taxi has gross bookings of $1.01 billion on an annualized basis, while Uber had $566 million, according to a presentation prepared for investors.

"Since founding Yandex.Taxi in 2011, we have connected tens of millions of riders and drivers to become the largest and most trusted ridesharing business in Russian Federation and neighboring countries", said Yandex.Taxi CEO Tigran Khudaverdyan, who will serve as CEO of the merged company. Last year, Uber also had to leave China when they sold their operations to rival, Didi Chuxing, for 17.5% stake of their company. Along with its rides-on-demand business, the USA firm is also merging its food ordering and delivery business, UberEATS, with the Russian firm.

The deal comes not long after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who helped found the app-based auto service in 2009, resigned amidst investor pressure.

Yandex, one of Russia's biggest internet companies, operates five-year-old Yandex.taxi in the country and several others in Eastern Europe. The two companies together predict that they will be offering 35 million rides per month across these countries. After the deal goes through, riders will still be able to order rides from either the Uber or Yandex Taxi apps, but the driver apps will be integrated under the merger.

As part of the deal, Uber will contribute its UberEATS food delivery business in the six-country region to the new venture.

While Uber no longer exists in China, the paper value of its stake in Didi has risen to around $8 billion from $6.1 billion, based on Didi's recent funding round valued at $50 billion.

"For instance, you can call an Uber vehicle via Yandex Taxi app while you're in London or Bangkok, and let's say, a tourist from Paris will be able to call a Yandex Taxi via Uber app", he stressed.

Given changes in the business at home - namely CEO Travis Kalanick resigning amid a host of scandals involving sexual harassment and other bad management practices - the company appears to be having a wider thinking of its overall strategy.

  • Joe Gonzales