Yandex float priced at top end of range

RUSSIAN internet search firm Yandex yesterday appeared to be cashing in on a surge in demand for technology companies in the United States, despite fears of a new bubble.

The firm, dubbed as the “Russian Google”, now plans to sell shares above its initial price range, at between $24 and $25 per unit. It had initially tightened its share sale to a price between $20 and $22.

At the higher price, Yandex would be the biggest float by an internet firm since Google raised $1.67bn (£1bn) in 2004.

The sale would put shares in the company at least 23 times above next year’s earnings. Google currently trades at 13 times its anticipated 2012 earnings.

The Moscow-based firm, which has almost triple Google’s market share in Russia, is listing on New York’s Nasdaq stock exchange.

Yandex will look to raise an estimated $1bn in the float, selling a stake of up to 18 per cent. The group will be valued at more than $6bn.

Bankers from Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs stopped taking investor orders for Yandex shares late last week, a week earlier than planned.

Analysts played down concerns that Yandex is fuelling a tech bubble, making positive comments about the firm.

“The connection to revenue is much stronger to a search vendor than it is to a social networking vendor that has to work up to that ecosystem,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group.

“Regional players in their own geographies could begin to nibble Google to death, or at least lock Google into the US hemisphere as localised competitors take more and more market share,” he added.