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Why Yandex Stock Just Crashed 18%

By Rich Smith - Oct 11, 2019 at 11:47AM

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President Putin targets foreign ownership of Russian shares.

What happened

Yandex (YNDX -6.79%) stock -- the "Russian Google" -- is plummeting in Friday-morning trading, already down 17.9% as of 11:30 a.m. EDT.

You can thank President Putin for that.

This morning, The Moscow Times reported that Kremlin officials are backing a draft law now working its way through the Duma (Russia's lower house of representatives) that would limit foreign ownership of Russian technology companies to 20%.

Moscow's Kremlin after a snowfall.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

The draft law in question was introduced in June, reports MT, so perhaps it shouldn't come as a huge surprise -- although it apparently is jolting some folks today. Moreover, the draft law was introduced by United Russia Duma member Anton Gorelkin. And United Russia backs Putin in power, a second reason to expect this law to have Kremlin support.

But it's even worse than that. According to one Russian news website, persons close to Putin are actively lobbying in support of the law, which had previously been opposed by the Russian Ministry of Communications, which can now be expected to be issued new marching orders.

Now what

Adding a further wrinkle to the story, MT is citing a local analyst who believes that Yandex's Yandex.Money website may have suffered a data breach. Consumer protection laws being what they are in Russia, I doubt the potential for legal liability per se is sufficient to explain today's sell-off. But I wouldn't put it past the authorities to use such a scandal -- be it true or otherwise -- as a further justification for bringing Yandex under tighter government control.

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