Yandex Jumps on First Day in Biggest 2011 Tech IPO

Yandex Employees at Work
Employees work in the offices of Moscow-based Yandex NV. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Yandex NV, owner of Russia’s most popular Internet search engine, jumped 55 percent in Nasdaq Stock Market trading after raising $1.3 billion in an initial public offering that sold above the proposed price range.

The shares, trading under the symbol YNDX, rose $13.84 to $38.84 at 4 p.m. New York time. The Moscow-based company sold 52.2 million shares, or a 16.2 percent stake, at $25 each, above the proposed range of $20 to $22, valuing the company at about $8 billion, Yandex said in a statement today.

Today’s debut for Yandex, which has almost triple Google Inc.’s market share in Russia, is the biggest technology IPO worldwide in 2011 as companies file for U.S. offerings at the fastest pace in seven years. The rally adds to evidence of a boom in demand for Internet stocks after Mountain View, California-based LinkedIn Corp. more than doubled on its first trading day last week.

“What you saw with LinkedIn really raised the temperature for these kinds of deals,” said Ryan Jacob, chief investment officer of Jacob Asset Management in New York. “Even though the market as a whole has been mixed, there is still an appetite out there to invest in early-stage companies.”

The company sold 15.4 million shares, and some of its investors offered 36.8 million shares in the IPO. Yandex has also given its underwriters an option to purchase an additional 5.2 million shares.

Yandex, Google

Based on the $21 a share midpoint of the initial offer range, Yandex had planned to sell shares at a price equivalent to at least 23 times next year’s earnings, two people involved in the sale said this week before pricing was announced. Google trades at about 13 times estimated 2012 earnings.

Online advertising in Russia climbed 51 percent from 2008 through 2010, when it reached 26.65 billion rubles ($940 million), according to the Moscow-based Association of Communication Agencies. Spending on print ads plunged 41 percent in the same period, while the radio and television segments fell 21 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Yandex, co-founded by Chief Executive Officer Arkady Volozh and registered in The Hague, makes most of its revenue from advertising.

‘Huge Room’

“We still have huge room to grow,” Volozh said in an interview with Bloomberg’s “In Business with Margaret Brennan.” “The Russian advertising market is projected to triple in the next several years, and we also have nearby markets.”

Russia’s Internet industry, the largest in Europe after Germany by users, is experiencing “rapid growth” and may account for 3.7 percent of gross domestic product by 2015, more than double the industry’s contribution in 2009, the Boston Consulting Group said in a report released May 19.

“Search is the most easily monetizable part of Internet advertising, so the prospects actually look quite good” for Yandex, said Jacob, the portfolio manager.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who posts to online blogs and visited the San Francisco offices of Twitter Inc. during a trip to California last June, has made “modernization” a priority of his administration.

About 70 percent of the stock in the Yandex IPO comes from existing investors, including Baring Vostok Capital Partners and Tiger Global Management LLC, according to the company’s filing.

‘Google of Russia’

Proceeds from the sale will be invested in technology, infrastructure and possibly acquisitions, the company said in the prospectus.

Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. led the offering.

LinkedIn, the first major U.S. social-media company to go public, sold 7.84 million shares at $45 apiece in its IPO last week, raising $352.8 million. The exercised an option to buy additional shares two days later, boosting the offering size to $405.7 million.

At least 230 companies have announced plans for U.S. IPOs so far this year, more than the same period in any other year since 2004, when 232 companies were on file, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Yandex has picked a great time for an IPO for a tech company,” said Anthony Moro, managing director and head of emerging markets at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., which has about $1.1 trillion in assets under management. “For the longer term, they’re in the right spot. They’re the Google of Russia.”

(Corrects date of Boston Consulting report in 10th paragraph in story that ran May 24.)
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