(Bloomberg) — Netflix, TikTok, Samsung and credit card operators have joined a long list of businesses breaking ties with Russia or reviewing their operations in the country as reputational and financial risks mount.
International sanctions, the closure of airspace and transport links due to war, and financial sanctions on SWIFT and capital controls have made it impossible, if not impossible, for many companies to supply parts, make payments, and deliver goods from Russia. In addition, potential international consumer backlash against any company that helped under Vladimir Putin’s regime means the exodus of corporations from Russia has become a stampede.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, three decades of investment by foreign businesses, particularly in energy, were reversed. Here are some of the biggest companies that have started disclosing their connections:
oil and gas
BP Plc, Russia’s largest foreign investor, led the way with its surprise announcement in February. 27 that it would exit its 20% stake in state-controlled Rosneft, a move that could result in a $25 billion write-off and cut the company’s global oil and gas production by a third.
Shell plc followed, citing Russia’s “stupid act of military offensive”. The company said it would end partnerships with state-controlled Gazprom, including its participation in the Sakhalin-II liquefied natural gas facility and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which Germany blocked last week. The cost of both projects is around $3 billion. Exxon Mobil Corp said it would “shut down” its Sakhalin-1 operation.
Norway’s state-owned energy giant Equinor ASA said it would begin withdrawing from its joint ventures in Russia, which are valued at about $1.2 billion. In parallel, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, said it was freezing about $2.8 billion in Russian assets and would come up with an exit plan by March 15.
Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc said on Saturday they were suspending operations in Russia. In separate statements, which arrived within minutes of each other, Visa cited “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and unacceptable developments,” while Mastercard cited the “unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment”. mentioned.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a video call with US lawmakers called on companies to close all business in Russia. Each gets about 4% of its net revenue from business involving Russia. American Express followed on Sunday.
Some critics argue that the steps are not enough. However, the companies said that any transactions initiated with their cards issued in Russia would no longer work outside the country and that cards issued outside Russia would not work at Russian merchants or ATMs, for consumers inside Russia who had a local With the card issued, they can still pay for goods and services there.
In the span of a week, most of the world’s largest carmakers, including General Motors Company, Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp. announced that they would stop shipments to Russia or to dormant plants in the country. Truck makers Volvo AB and Daimler Truck Holding AG also halted business activities there.
However, the biggest loser automaker, Renault SA, has remained silent.
The French company’s majority control over AvtoVaz, the Soviet-era manufacturer of Ladas, and its reliance on Russia for about 12% of its revenue have discouraged investors and caused Renault to lose more than a third of its market value in two weeks. . “Renault has promised to comply with the restrictions,” French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on France Info radio on Thursday.
Samsung Electronics Co., the leading smartphone vendor in Russia with over 30% of the market, has suspended exports of all its products to the country. Samsung said it would donate $6 million to humanitarian efforts in the region, including $1 million in consumer electronics products.
Ahead of the announcement, Mykhailo Fedorov, who serves as Ukraine’s deputy prime minister and oversees digital operations, posted a letter to Samsung’s vice president Han Jong-hee on his Twitter account, asking the Korean tech giant Russia was urged to temporarily stop the supply of services and products. “We need your support – in 2022, modern technology is probably the best answer to tanks, multiple rocket launchers and missiles targeting residential neighborhoods, kindergartens and hospitals,” he wrote.
Microsoft on Friday denounced Russia’s “unwarranted, unprovoked and unlawful invasion” of Ukraine and said it was suspending all new sales of products and services in Russia. Apple Inc. has halted sales of the iPhone and began limiting Apple Pay services and other popular products in Russia, and removed the RT News and Sputnik News applications from the App Store outside the country. HP Inc., the largest supplier of PCs to Russia, has stopped exporting to the country, as has Intel Corp.
Nike Inc. is one of several consumer goods companies that have cited logistics problems as a reason for suspending sales in Russia. Spanish fashion retailer Inditex SA, which has 502 stores in Russia, including 86 Zara outlets, is temporarily closing all of its stores in Russia and halting online sales, saying it “is a continuation of operations and business conditions”. cannot guarantee.”
Other companies have so far taken limited steps to halt business. Laurent Saatchi, general secretary of dairy company Danone SA, said the world’s largest yogurt maker would suspend investments in Russia, but would continue to sell dairy and baby food.
Danone’s chief executive officer Antoine de Saint-Afrique was among the CEOs and presidents of some of France’s biggest companies, according to Le Figaro, who met with Emmanuel Macron on Friday. The newspaper reported that the French president urged him not to leave Russia in a hurry, and in any case not without consulting the government.
Netflix Inc. is shutting down its operations in Russia and has said no new customers will be able to sign up, though it’s not clear what will happen to existing accounts.
Netflix has less than a million subscribers in Russia and is operating in the country through a joint venture with National Media Group. The streaming giant said previously it would not carry essential Russian news channels on its local language service in the country and has halted all projects and acquisitions from Russia, including four programs in production.
Hollywood studios, including The Walt Disney Company, Paramount Pictures, Sony Corp and AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia and Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures, have also halted or postponed the release of films in Russia.
Meanwhile, other platforms including TikTok are suspending or shutting down services because of Russia’s new “fake news” law, which aims to limit information and quell dissent about Ukraine’s invasion.
“We have no choice but to suspend live streaming and new content in our video service while reviewing the security implications of this law,” TikTok announced in a series of tweets. “The safety of our employees and our users is our top priority.”
The company, owned by China-based ByteDance Ltd, said its in-app messaging service will not be affected.
On Friday, the Russian government said it was blocking Meta Platform Inc’s access to Facebook. Hours after the announcement, Meta said it would block all ads in the country and stop selling ads to Russian businesses.
Law and Accounts
Baker McKenzie said last week that it was reviewing its operations in Russia and would sever ties with several Russian customers to comply with sanctions. The Chicago-headquartered firm’s clients include Russia’s finance ministry and Russia’s second largest bank, VTB.
London-based Linkletters said in a statement that it is “reviewing all Russia-related actions of the firm.” KPMG LLP’s UK head, Jonathan Holt, said the firm would break ties with some clients subject to the recent wave of sanctions against Russia.
Even as more companies break ties with Russia, there is increasing criticism of banks and corporations that are perceived as profiting from the war or not doing enough to punish Putin’s aggression.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren, a vocal critic of Wall Street, said some banks are “diluting” sanctions by breaching Russian corporate bonds and suggesting customers buy the nation’s assets cheaply.
In a statement released late Friday, Warren called out market makers JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc after a Bloomberg report that both banks were buying beaten-down bonds. Banks routinely take out loans because customers ask for them, or because they expect to find ready buyers.
Analysts at JPMorgan also published a note recommending that investors boost holdings of Russian-linked debt to take advantage of the “recovery play” stemming from the sell-off with the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Giant Wall Street banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs never miss a chance to get rich, even if it means capitalizing on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and easing sanctions on Russian businesses,” said Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat. “
Representatives for Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan declined to comment on Bloomberg’s report that they were buying Russian bonds.
Last week, Bob Sternfels, global managing partner at McKinsey & Company, took to LinkedIn to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and announced that the firm would no longer do business with any government entity in Russia. The most senior executive of the consultancy in Ukraine called on companies to move forward and start, where possible, the closure of “offices and outlets” in the country. On Thursday, the company said it would not employ any new clients in Russia and would suspend all client service in the country after the end of its remaining engagements, although its office would remain open to support staff.
According to Nikkei, the founder of Fast Retailing, which owns fashion giant Uniqlo, said the company would not back down from Russia. Tadashi Yanai, chairman and CEO of Fast Retailing, reportedly said, “Clothes are essential commodities in daily life.” “Russians also have the right to live.”
Representatives for Fast Retailing in Tokyo did not immediately respond to inquiries from Bloomberg News. The company operated 50 stores in Russia as of February. 28. FAST said on March 4 that it would donate $10 million and 200,000 items of clothing to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to support those fleeing Ukraine.
—With assistance from Tara Patel, Mark Gurman, Stephanie Baker and Angus Whitley.
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