Yandex announced the purchase of the "Vezet" assets for $ 178 million

Yandex.Taxi announced the purchase of part of the "Vezet" Group's assets for $ 178 million. Earlier, FAS blocked the deal, but now the parties claim that they have revised its structure and there is no longer a need to request permission for it.

Yandex.Taxi announced the purchase of call-centres and cargo transportation segment of the group of companies "Vezet", which manages the taxi services of "Vezet", "Taxi Saturn", "Fasten" and "Red Taxi". The deal, which will affect the taxi market in several regions, is worth $ 178 million.

It should allow Yandex.Taxi to improve customer service and accelerate the development of a logistics platform, in particular, to offer express delivery of parcels and goods to residents of the regions, the report says.

In 2019, Yandex.Taxi announced that it had agreed to purchase call centres and software from "Vezet". Shareholders of "Vezet" were to receive up to 3.6% of shares in Yandex.Taxi and up to $ 71.5 million, subject to the planned targets' achievement. Yandex.Taxi intended to invest about 8 billion rubles within three years in the development of taxi services in Russia's regions. The company filed and withdrew applications for approval of the transaction to the FAS several times, and as a result, in mid-2020, the agency refused it. As stated in the FAS message, the deal could strengthen the dominant position of Yandex.Taxi both throughout Russia and within more than half of the regions.

The representative of Yandex.Taxi explained that now they did not ask for a new permit for the transaction, since it "does not meet the criteria for transactions that require approval from the antimonopoly authority," - the book value of "Vezet" assets is in the range that does not require the approval of the purchase by Russian legislation. "Unlike the agreement between Yandex.Taxi and "Vezet", announced in July 2019, the new deal involves the acquisition of only a portion of "Veset's" assets, operates in a limited number of regions and does not apply to software," he said.
Citymobil believes that the deal between Yandex.Taxi and "Vezet" - "will increase the distortion of competition in the market and create the risk of forming a monopoly in the segment of taxi aggregators," said a company spokesman. The representative of the taxi company "Maxim" called the purchase of call-centres the main point in the deal's announced scheme. "This is an important condition for competition and further development in regions where many orders are received by phone through the operator," he said, adding that since call-centres from any city can serve any settlements, the wording of Yandex.Taxi is that that "the deal is valid in a limited number of regions" remains unclear.

The deal announced on the 2nd of February to purchase part of the "Vezet" - " is an attempt by Yandex.Taxi to bypass the law that previously allowed the FAS to block it, says Aleksey Ivanov, director of the HSE-Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development. "All this time, Yandex wanted to buy one thing - access to consumers and taxi drivers, to strengthen its dominant position in the market. They have singled out the main assets in a deal that is not formally subject to legislation. I see this as a flaw in the current legislation," he said. In some markets, as a result of the deal, Yandex.Taxi may become a monopoly, Ivanov fears.

The deal "will help one of the 'coolest' regional taxi players to survive" - the Vezet group, objected State Duma deputy Alexander Yakubovsky. "Due to the pandemic, the entire taxi industry found itself in a difficult situation, and the drop in the number of "Vezet" orders over the past year, according to various estimates, amounted to 80%," Bogdan Konoshenko, board member of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry, describes the situation in the regions. According to him, such a decrease primarily affects drivers who have lost their earning opportunities. "And it should be taken into account that people often go to work in a taxi in difficult conditions, for example, when they lose their main job," he notes, pointing out that the purchase of "Vezet" assets by Yandex.Taxi "will now have a positive effect on the regional taxi market"...

The representative of the taxi "Maxim" also believes that the shareholders of "Vezet" had no other options but to sell part of the assets of "Yandex.Taxi". At the same time, he sees no reason for the shareholders of "Vezet" to develop the company based on the remaining assets and agrees with the statement that the FAS's position forced them to leave the business for the lower 'price' than they intended.

Another positive aspect of the deal Yakubovsky sees is that the agreement will help Yandex "protect the Russian market" from the expansion of Chinese DiDi. This company entered the Russian market in August 2020 and now operates in 16 cities. He pointed out that DiDi plans to develop in Russia, "aggressively dumping actively" and there are questions about where it stores it's customer data. "Given the huge amount of money the Chinese have, this is a big security threat," says Yakubovsky, believing that "the consolidation of Russian companies will help fight this."