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What: Shares of Yandex NV (NASDAQ:YNDX) touched a new 52-week low after falling more than 18% during Friday's intraday trading, then settled to close down around 10% following concerns the European Internet search provider could face pressures from Internet control in Russia.
So what: Specifically -- and keeping in mind that the Russian parliament is considering legislation that could categorize major Internet companies as "strategic" assets -- on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the Internet as originally a "special project of the U.S. CIA, and that's how its developing."
He went on to criticize what he views as undue exposure to Western influence for Yandex -- which is Russia's leading search engine -- saying:
As far as Yandex is concerned, not all is so simple. When they too were pressured, told that they had to have so many Americans and so many Europeans in their governing bodies [...] And they had to agree with that. And they are partly registered overseas, not only for tax reasons, but also out of other considerations."
Yandex responded with a news release insisting that, as a publicly traded company with a 70% free float, it is not facing pressure from any of its shareholders. Moreover, Yandex reminded, "It is quite common for any Internet start-up in any country in the world" to have international investors.
Now what: As it stands, while nothing may ultimately come of Putin's suspicions, I still prefer to steer clear given the increasing escalation in the situation between Russia and Ukraine. Personally, the risk of Putin taking action, and potentially forcing foreign investors to sell their stakes or face expropriation, is one that I'd rather not worry about.
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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Yandex. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.