Sberbank to Continue Partnership with Yandex, Says CEO Gref

Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, plans to continue its partnership with the country’s top tech firm Yandex even though it has transferred its ‘golden share’ in the country’s leading internet company to another entity, the lender’s CEO German Gref told Reuters.

This month, Yandex approved changes to its corporate structure to assuage Kremlin fears about potential foreign influence. A “public interest foundation” was established, which would receive Sberbank’s golden share and a number of other rights.

Russia’s top bank has also agreed to buy a stake in Yandex’s biggest rival, internet company, as Gref continues to transform the lender into a banking-to-online services company.

The deal and the transfer of the Yandex golden share have raised questions about the future of Sberbank’s partnership with Yandex, which includes joint ventures Yandex.Market and Yandex.Money.

“Partnership (with Yandex) will remain,” Gref told Reuters, adding there could be some changes in a number of the companies’ joint projects.

He said Sberbank may consider ending a non-compete agreement with Yandex on banking services, allowing Yandex to request a banking license for Yandex.Money so it can develop payment services.

“There is no threat to Yandex.Money, they are growing, they are developing but to achieve the next high-quality jump we need to decide on its future destiny,” Gref said.

He added that Sberbank and Yandex had agreed to deepen cooperation in educational projects, without giving further details.