The Maidan Cookie Has Crumbled – Ukraine Study Finds Most Multinational Companies Still in Russia

Yves here. The report below from John Helmer is striking, particularly given that it comes from Ukraine sources, including ones funded by Soros. The very short version is that in their sample of multinationals, most have not exited Russia. Admittedly a big chunk include those who tried selling Russian assets and either failed or changed their minds after they saw the prices (or how the Russian economy was rebounding).

The bit I find hard to square is that there have been many reports of Russian businesses taking over Western multinational operations in Russia, such as McDonald’s, and quickly and successfully opening a “new and improved” franchise. Another conflating factoid is the sharp rise of the rouble relatively early in the SMO. Commentators attributed that to Russian oil and gas revenues increasing due to the rise in energy prices, in combination with a drop in imports from Europe to supply these foreign vendors.

So I am not sure why these foreign companies would still be operating in Russia, at least at any scale, given that they can’t legally dividend any profits from Russia to their non-Russia parent entities, nor move money out of Russia by buying supplies from non-Russia-based affiliates.

In other words, I wonder if the main point of this report is to name and shame Western companies still active in Russia, even if at a low level, not for the sake of immediate profit, but on the optimistic assumption that sanctions will eventually be rolled back. Having said that, the article suggests another motivation: a desire to avoid or postpone writing down the Russian assets.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

All’s fair in love and war – this  is a 500-year old English proverb but it isn’t in the Geneva conventions on war crimes and genocide, much as the US and US-backed Israel claim it is.

In the war of US, NATO and their Asian allies against Russia, it is turning out that almost all the major companies on the enemy side love Russia too much to leave.

They also think Russia has won the war, so they are convinced — the executive managers,  boards of directors, control shareholders, and bankers — that there is no point in leaving. So they continue to do business in the Russian market profitably, while they wait for the military defeat of the Ukraine and their own governments to register, and the terms of capitulation allow them to tell their shareholders, “we told you so.”

That notice will be delivered with a dividend paid out of the profits the companies continue to earn from their Russian businesses. The shareholders will be satisfied with both; they will vote their confidence, with a bonus, for the chief executive and board at the next Annual General Meeting.

Two studies on the enemy side, one by the Kiev School of Economy’s (KSE) “Leave Russia”  and “SelfSanctions” projects, and a follow-up by the Russian-language publication Novaya Gazeta Europa have reported results of their surveys of 110 international firms working in Russia. This is fresh evidence of the defeat of the enemy in the economic war — from the foxhole of the enemy.

The survey results demonstrate that after two years of intense pressure and threat campaigns by the US, NATO and the Ukraine for the companies to wind up their Russian businesses and leave  Russia, the outcome is defeat.

KSE claims this work has been done by “a team of Ukrainian IT volunteers;” the Yale University’s School of Management collaborated with data on the companies. Volunteer doesn’t  mean what it seems in Ukrainian. The funding for the operation has come through KSE’s money suppliers, which include several Ukrainian ministries, whose funding comes in turn from the International Monetary Fund, the US, and the European Union (EU).  “KSE Institute’s clients”, the institution’s website says of its paymasters, “also include the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, the European Business Association, and a number of large law and development companies. Among the international partner organizations are USAID, UK aid, DFID, the embassies of the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, the EBRD, the World Bank, the EU Commission, IFC, WHO, UNDP, GIZ, UNICEF, Yale School of Management and others.”

KSE’s “SelfSanctions” project is paid for by another group of “partners” including George Soros, government-backed organizations in Germany, Norway, Taiwan, and Poland, and a Ukrainian entity called “Squeezing Putin”.    This takes US and other intelligence material, feeds it to the Anglo-American media, and then identifies the media reports as corroboration of the process for sanctioning companies which remain in Russia and are attacked in the press as an “international sponsor of war”.

KS adds a note of self-importance: “Kyiv School of Economics holds the first place among the most powerful economic analytical institutions of Ukraine according to the RePEc rating.”

The importance, the breaking news, is that, according to the newly published evidence, 82.7% of the international companies surveyed have dismissed KSE, its foreign state financiers, and its economic warfare projects as a failure – and their shareholders concur.

This is how the Maidan cookie crumbles.

The Russian report by Novaya Gazeta Europa, officially identified by the Russian government media monitor as a foreign agent, was published on February 6. It appears on the Russian website of the publication; not on its English website. The publication attaches this notice: “Military censorship has been introduced in Russia. Independent journalism is banned. We continue to work because we know that our readers remain free people. Novaya Gazeta Europa reports only to you and depends only on you. Help us to remain the antidote to dictatorship – support us with money.”

Unlike the international companies it is reporting on, Novaya Gazeta Europa has left Russia, and is based in Riga, Latvia.

A summary report of the same material appeared on the same day in The Bell. This is also a foreign agent publication; since 2019 it is reportedly  financed by the oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov; follow his business practices here.  Prokhorov has become an Israeli citizen and lives in that country.

The Russian text has been translated verbatim; illustrations have been added for clarification.


“If you work quietly, no one will come for you” — we have studied the cases of 110 foreign companies doing business in Russia despite the war. That’s why they never left.
By Denis Morozhin

The Russian authorities like to talk about how foreign companies only pretend to leave Russia, and if they do leave, they will certainly return. As the Novaya-Europa study shows, foreign business gives the Kremlin reasons for such statements. Of the 110 largest foreign companies which continue to operate in Russia, 51 were not even going to leave, and another 40 changed their minds or were unable to sell their assets at a bargain price. We tell you about the five main strategies that allow them to stay in the country during the war.

Shortly after February 24, four global tobacco giants that divided the Russian market among themselves — Japan Tobacco, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands — made the most radical statements about working in Russia: ‘We will leave the country, we will sell the business.’ Back in 2022,  the sources of Novaya Europa assessed these plans extremely skeptically. “At least the largest tobacco companies will definitely not leave, why would they do that? Do you think that if Philip Morris does not close the factory near St. Petersburg, people in Indonesia or Brazil will stop buying Marlboros to take revenge on those who sold themselves to Putin and pay taxes for the war?” one of the insiders of this market said at the time.

Almost two years after the outbreak of a full-scale war, it turned out that this forecast has largely come true. Not only tobacco companies (of which only British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands have left), but also many other major companies continue to work in Russia despite all their promises and even despite the title of ‘sponsors of war’ assigned to them in Ukraine. It was the market leader, Japan Tobacco, who explained the continuation of work at the end of 2023 as follows: we do not want to “deprive consumers of the product they are used to.” At the same time, according to Novaya-Europa, back in the summer of 2022, this manufacturer was negotiating a sale, and its corporate statements confirmed this.

By the beginning of 2024, it became clear: some do not leave, because they know that if they anger the Russian authorities even a little bit, they will lose key assets and a lot of money. The second is just fine in Russia, they have no reason to lose a profitable business, and now they have even stopped hiding it — although they promised to leave the market. Still others, whose example is certain warning for others, did not want to come out on the Kremlin’s terms, went into conflict with the authorities — and lost everything. The fourth, looking at the first three groups, just remain silent and work quietly all these two years.


Novaya Gazeta Europa studied the cases of 110 foreign companies which either worked in Russia in 2023 or left the market no later than the second half of 2023. We took the 50 largest foreign companies according to the Forbes 2023 rating and added to them firms from the Novaya Europa rating compiled last year of the top 100 foreign companies by net profit in Russia in 2022 (minus those who completed their exit from the country before July 2023).

It has turned out that these companies can be divided into five categories depending on their operating strategies in Russia.

We have called the largest group, which included 51 companies, “Wait it out in silence.” At best, they have expressed concern about the outbreak of a full-scale war, or they have simply remained silent. Some of them have explicitly said that they would continue to work. Among those who still adhere to this model of behaviour are Auchan, Metro, Calzedonia, Ecco, Benetton, Ehrmann, TotalEnergies, Rockwool, Mitsui, and major pharmaceutical companies.

According to our calculations, in 2022 – the reports for 2023 have not yet been published — they have received a total net profit of 448 billion rubles.

The second largest group, in which we included 40 firms, are those which promised to sell their business, leave the market, reduce investments and abandon development plans in Russia – this is the “Promise and not leave” strategy.  As a result, they retained a variety of assets in the country: production, retail chains, brands, service or supplies. Examples include BP, JTI, PMI, Pepsico, Mars, Nestle, Raiffeisen, UniCredit, Intesa, ABB, Bacardi, Campari. This group is smaller in number, but larger in total profit — 669.6 billion rubles. We have identified three companies in a separate group (Leroy Merlin, Decathlon, Adidas) which have retained their brands in Russia on one condition or another — in fact, they “left without leaving.” All of these companies did not disclose profits for 2022.

Two small groups, in each of which we have included 8 companies, have adopted the strategies of “Sitting until the last” and “Losing everything”. Those who stayed (with a total profit of 43 billion rubles) promised to leave the market, but sold the business only in the second half of 2023, usually at a discount and on unfavourable terms. These are Hyundai, Kia, Volvo, Ingka Group (shopping centre investor), AB InBev, Veon.

The same number also went into confiscation or external management because they quarrelled with the Russian authorities or became, according to the Kremlin, a “compensation fund” – held for potential offset if the West fails to compensate for its seizure of Russian assets abroad — Danone, Carlsberg, Fortum and others with a total net profit of 48.8 billion rubles.

According to the calculations of Novaya-Europa, the leaders in choosing the first two strategies, which involve maintaining business in Russia, are companies from the United States, a total of 20 of them. Germany is in second place with 14 firms (12 of them are “silently waiting it out”), Italy is in third place with 11.


The strategy of “sitting it out and keeping business” shows that foreign companies have verbally condemned the war. In fact, however, it is more important for them to preserve the opportunity to earn in a large and growing market. These earnings probably outweigh the potential problems in Western consumer markets for them. It is in order to create such difficulties for companies that the Ukrainian authorities have created a register of “International Sponsors of War”, which at the end of January includes 48 companies (31 of them from countries that the Russian authorities call “unfriendly”).

Since mid-2023, some companies on this list have begun to face corporate boycotts in the West. However, this has turned out to be very localized and has so far mainly manifested itself in the Scandinavian countries. For example, Swedish SAS has decided to stop feeding passengers with Mondelez and Nestle products, as well as drinking Pepsico soda and Bacardi alcohol.

Other consumers in Sweden and Norway, in particular, the railway company, the ferry carrier Tallink and others, began to refuse Mondelez chocolate. “At the same time, Mondelez is holding up for now,” a Russian lawyer who specializes in international trade said in a conversation with Novaya—Europa. In Finland, the VR rail carrier and Finnair airline have said they may reject Nestle and Unilever products.

Ukraine has included all these companies in the list of sponsors of the war, but it is still difficult to judge the economic consequences of the boycotts, because they began very recently. None of the companies has yet claimed damage from these measures.

Hostages and “calculating men”

Many companies found themselves in the position of hostages of the Kremlin, and these are both those who promised to leave Russia, but did not do so, and those who remained silent for two years, say the sources of Novaya Europa. “They are forced to work in Russia and have become an offset fund which the Russian authorities need to exchange for Russian assets blocked abroad,” an expert from one of the major analytical companies believes.

He explains the status of “hostages” by the mass of restrictions imposed on foreign firms, which deprive them of the chance to exit without serious losses for the business. In particular, bankruptcy is prohibited, and if there are signs of premeditated bankruptcy, then managers face criminal liability.

Assets can be sold at a discount of 50% of their current estimated value, which is now very low. And most importantly, you need to get a sale transaction  permit through a special commission, which reviews and agrees to an average of one or two transactions per month, the expert notes.

Among the global giants who tried, but could not sell their factories in Russia on favourable terms, but did not want to lose everything, the experts identify Mitsubishi Motors, ABB, General Electric — all of them have stopped production in Russia.

But there is also a directly opposite group — the “calculating ones” who understand perfectly well that their position in the market is such that they can safely continue working in Russia. If the Kremlin takes their assets to bargain with the West, it will cause problems for the economy.

Despite the fact that the state, after the outbreak of a full-scale war, has learned to take away private business from owners, the authorities simply cannot nationalize some companies, otherwise that will be a “shot in the foot,” our sources say. Tobacco concerns are an example of this, according to our industry sources. Of the four largest cigarette manufacturers represented in Russia, Russian assets have been sold to British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands, while Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris are in no hurry.

“Let’s imagine that Putin took Russian factories from Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris, just as he confiscated the assets of Carlsberg and Danone. And then it is possible that factories in Russia will have serious problems with the supply of raw materials. Tobacco plantations, of course, do not belong to cigarette manufacturers. But global concerns still know how to interact with plantation owners who can meet the global giants halfway and arrange problems with the supply of tobacco raw materials to Russia,” says a source of Novaya-Europa, who knows this industry well.

At the same time, he adds, tobacco raw materials are produced, among other countries, in China: “But there is another tobacco, though it is not very suitable for our factories. And China, even though it is our friend, will also not want to quarrel with the West. And what happens when cigarettes run out in the stores, Putin and his friends should remember perfectly well, because in 1990 and 1991, because of such a shortage, people blocked Nevsky Prospekt in the president’s hometown”. Anatoly Chubais recalled such a riot – there was similar unrest in Moscow and other cities.

The Russian market for worldwide global tobacco manufacturers is at least number two in global size, so it cannot be lost, says another source in the industry. “They want to sit here until the last moment and earn money”,  he thinks. For example, Japan Tobacco earned a fifth of its $3 billion in net profit for 2022 — or $645 million — in Russia (43.5 billion rubles, recalculated at the average ruble exchange rate of 67.46 to the dollar). At the same time, its ruble profit in Russia in 2022 increased by one and a half times compared to 2021.

At the same time, Philip Morris earned $787 million (53.1 billion rubles) in Russia in 2022 — about 5.4% of its total net profit of $9.05 billion in the same year. Its Russian net profit increased by a third in the first year of the war.

Stand with a drink replacing Coca-Cola at a grocery store in Moscow, June 10, 2022. After Coca-Cola announced the termination of its business in Russia, the new product has already appeared on the shelves of Moscow supermarkets. Bela Cola, produced in Belarus, was previously available only in some regions of Russia. It is reported that since February 2022, imports of carbonated beverages to Russia have increased by 50 percent. Photo by Vlad Karkov / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

Promising does not mean leaving

Among those who spoke about their intentions to leave the market, but have remained while  only partially reducing their presence, there are many global producers of what you can eat and drink. These include both of the world’s main suppliers of non-alcoholic soda, as well as both of the largest alcohol sellers, Bacardi and Campari Group.

It is noteworthy that all these companies (as well as Mars, Nestle, Procter& Gamble, Mondelez and others) have behaved in approximately the same way. In the early days of the war, they issued fairly similar statements about the suspension of some operations in Russia (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Campari).


By the beginning of the third year of the war, in reality there their business has been preserved. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have left their production facilities in Russia and are making money on local brands, removing the global brands from the market. Campari has only slightly reduced its sales in Russia (according to Kommersant, through its Russian subsidiary  in January–July 2023, this concern imported 3.12 million litres of alcohol against 3.58 million litres a year earlier).

A most interesting thing has happened with Bacardi: immediately after the outbreak of the war, the world’s largest family-owned alcohol company announced that supplies to Russia had been stopped and investments had been frozen. But in August 2023, The Wall Street Journal drew attention to the fact that these promises had disappeared from the statement on the company’s website. Bacardi not only kept supplies, but also continued to pour William Lawson’s whiskey in Russia.

“They are a non-public company, and they can afford to say that if there is no direct ban, then all this does not concern them. The fact that Bacardi’s headquarters are located in Bermuda helps them behave this way, and they can always say: ‘We are not an American company and we decide who we work with.’ Although in other situations they may associate themselves with the United States, where they have a large division,” said a source in the alcohol industry. Bacardi, as well as Campari, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo did not respond to questions for this article.

The predominantly American businesses have turned out to be much more cynical about the war, says Ivan Fedyakov, CEO of the INFOLine analytical agency. “European companies are afraid of a consumer boycott, which can cause significant damage to business. For Americans, the conflict with Ukraine is far away from them,” he says. If the conflict flares up more sharply, then American companies may remember that they pay taxes in Russia, but for now they are waiting for the pendulum to swing in whatever direction, the expert argues.

Another striking example of such a strategy is the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank. At the beginning of the full-scale war, the bank, like dozens of companies, published a cautious statement — this has now been deleted from the bank’s website, but has remained in the Wayback archive — about leaving Russia “under strict control.” After that, the bank repeatedly told the public about various exit strategies, including the separation or sale of the business, but repeatedly postponed the date for a possible transaction. However, as Reuters wrote at the end of 2023, citing Austrian officials, Austria itself is not interested in this: the government does not want to completely cut off relations with Moscow, because it still hopes for their resumption. And besides, Vienna wants to remain a “hub for money” that goes between Russia and Eastern Europe, Reuters concluded.

“Raiffeisen hopes that a possible change in the geopolitical situation will allow it to stay and work as before,” a member of the board of one of the Russian banks told Novaya-Europa. At the same time, the Russian business, according to the results for the first nine months of 2023, brought the Austrian bank half of its global profit (1.024 billion euros out of 2.114 billion euros). If you try to leave Russia without the consent of the authorities, then “you can only write everything off to zero, and also face arrest,” a source of Novaya-Europa in Western banking circles is sure.

At the same time, Raiffeisen is a systemically important bank in Austria — it holds the first place in terms of assets and a market share of 17%. The Austrian authorities would be forced to support such a financial institution if it has problems. And the loss of a huge business in Russia is quite capable of triggering such hypothetical difficulties, our banking source argues. It is unlikely that the Austrian authorities want to solve the problem of recapitalization of the giant bank.

Work and keep quiet

“We have a cynical opinion in the industry that the main reason is revenue. The Russian market may account for even a small share of their income, but in absolute numbers it’s still a lot of money,” explains the strategy of a manager of one of the largest food companies in Russia. “And if you work quietly, then no one will come for you,” says the source.  He cites another reason why companies are “working quietly” without talking aloud about an exit: “The risk of asset loss. The illustrative cases are known; if the business is selected [by the authorities to make an example for others], then no one will help.”

Among those who chose the “work and keep quiet” strategy, the most notable are the giant retail chains: German Metro, French Auchan, as well as the Leroy Merlin network, presumably related to Auchan (both of them, as well as the Decathlon network, are owned by the French family company Mulliez). Auchan, Leroy Merlin and some other European companies are in no hurry, because for them leaving the Russian market will be more painful than a possible boycott or public opinion, says one of the industry sources.

Left: one of the LeRoy Merlin stores in Russia; right, Gérard Mulliez, patriarch of the family owning LeRoy Merlin, Auchan, Decathlon and other retail chains operating in Russia.  

In December 2023, the data of the Unified State Register of Legal Entities showed that the owner of Leroy Merlin had changed:  it became the company Scenari Holding LP from the United Arab Emirates. The market does not believe this. One of our industry sources, who asked not to be named, believes that in fact the French owners could have retained control of the network. He explains this by saying that Leroy Merlin, with 112 hypermarkets in Russia, which tops the Russian Forbes ranking of foreign companies by revenue, is too large an asset to be sold to an unknown company. The source recalls that until 2022, Leroy Merlin had more than a quarter of its revenue generated in Russia;  losing that would mean dealing a severe blow to the business.

Two more examples of “changing signage” are Decathlon and Adidas. The first one sold its  chain to the Russian company ARM (previously it specialized in the restaurant business), which opened stores under the name Desport. They sell products of the same brands as in the “old” Decathlon — the Desport online catalogue confirms this.

Adidas exited very cleverly. It subleased some of its stores to Lamoda, retaining its legal entity in Russia, and now sells its products through an official Russian distributor.

The illusion of return for energy production  

The Kremlin has managed to show foreign companies that those who insist on their rights will lose everything. In particular, Shell, an oil and gas producer, and Carlsberg, a brewer, have faced this. The result is that only the one who knows how to negotiate retains assets or is allowed to leave Russia with money. Other companies from the same industries, oil and gas and beer, have succeeded: BP, TotalEnergies and Heineken.

Shell has been producing and liquefying gas on Sakhalin for 15 years and selling liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asian markets, mainly to neighbouring Japan. Then a full-scale war broke out – and the concern, which had been friends with the Kremlin for decades, was one of the first to announce that it would withdraw from all enterprises in Russia. Moreover, it did this without equivocation, issuing a harsh statement on the fourth day of the invasion of Ukraine, on February 28, 2022.

Source: -- March 8, 2022

Perhaps that is why Vladimir Putin by his decree dated  June 30, 2022, effectively  took away 27.5% of the LNG plant on Sakhalin from Shell. Formally speaking, according to this decree, the Kremlin took the plant from all its shareholders, including Gazprom (50%),  Japanese Mitsui (12.5%) and Mitsubishi (10%) – the latter are representatives of the “sit and wait” strategy — and transferred the enterprise to a specially created Russian company,  Sakhalin Energy. Of course, the Japanese and Gazprom agreed to become its shareholders. Shell refused this honour.

The refusal of the Anglo-Dutch company meant that, according to the same presidential decree, Shell’s share had to be sold, and the money blocked inside Russia in a Type C account. In the spring of 2023, the Russian government allowed Novatek to buy this block of shares. Novatek is the second gas producer in Russia after Gazprom and the Kremlin’s great hope for conquering the global LNG market. Its export is critically important for the budget of Russia, which is under an oil embargo due to the war.

In the spring of 2023, Kommersant reported that Novatek co-owner Leonid Mikhelson  asked Putin to allow Shell to withdraw $1.16 billion from Russia for the sale of the stake in the Sakhalin plant – and Putin, according to the newspaper, gave such consent. The deal is still in limbo and probably not completed, two sources in the oil and gas market told Novaya-Europa: they say they do not know whether Novatek will receive the share and Shell will receive the money. “In fact, [Shell] hasn’t left”, one of the sources said. One of the proofs of this, he believes, is that the stock quotes of Novatek “have not yet gained value on the entry into Sakhalin-2 in any way.” In the database of Spark legal entities, information about the shareholders of Sakhalin Energy is classified.

When asked by Novaya-Europa whether the company received money for the asset, Shell’s press office noted that they have nothing to add to what is written about this in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section on the company’s website. This says: “We reserve all our legal rights in relation to our share of 27.5% (minus one share) in the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company.” That is to say, the share in the very company from which Putin took the plant last year.

One of our sources in the oil and gas market believes that this statement of the company can be interpreted as follows: Shell considers the nationalization illegal and may well sue the Kremlin to protect its rights to the asset. At the same time, in December 2023, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak did not confirm that the Shell and Novatek deal had been completed.

But Shell’s competitors, British BP and French TotalEnergies, did not issue loud statements and did not promise to protect their shareholder rights. And as a result, they have retained their assets in Russia. TotalEnergies’ strategy is to continue making money from LNG production together with Novatek, in which it owns a 19.4% stake. In addition, the French concern owns stakes in Arctic gas projects jointly with Novatek.

Total’s map of its joint Arctic gas projects with Novatek, 2018

BP has carefully assured the public that “we continue to consider options for completing our exit.” At the same time, the company is well aware that it cannot sell 19.75% of its Rosneft shares due to the restrictions imposed in Russia. “It does not count on the imminent end of the war and normalization of relations, and therefore it does not think to sit it out”, a former manager of the oil company familiar with the situation told Novaya-Europa; he asked not to be named. In this situation, all BP could do has been to limit itself to “honest deconsolidation – it does not show this asset in the financial  reports, displaying the subtraction from the point of view of the market. This is why its production, reserves, cash flows all fell,” he added. BP did not respond to a request for comment.

“Our business was stolen in Russia”

In the beer industry, there are also both nonconformists and skilful diplomats. The second obviously includes Heineken, which, according to our source in this market, “came to the authorities and said that the company was ready to leave on your terms, but with some money, bring your buyer, they say — the main point was that he was neutral and not under sanctions.” As a result, it was bought by the Russian concern Arnest, which in September 2022 bought three Russian factories for the production of aluminum cans from the American Ball Corporation.

Carlsberg, our source claims, was not ready to accept such conditions, and wanted to choose a buyer itself, and “from the point of view of the government behaved unconstructively.”  As a result, Heineken earned at least a little on leaving: Arnest repaid the debt of its Russian subsidiary for €100 million. However, Baltika, owned by Carlsberg, came under the external control of the state. In response, the Danish concern stated that “our business was stolen in Russia.”


“Now, if this situation can be resolved, it is only at the level of heads of state and interstate negotiations. And since they are impossible now, it seems that Carlsberg will have to forget about the Russian asset,” says our source in the industry. At the same time, according to his information, Arnest was ready to buy the Russian business of both brewing companies (and Carlsberg in June 2023 even managed, without specifying the buyer, to announce that it had already signed an agreement on the sale of the business), but did not receive the Kremlin’s consent to Baltika.

Denmark’s share of total Russian assets frozen or seized in the EU as of April 2022 was very small. The data tabulation was reported by the Irish Times from a leaked internal EU document andappeared on April 21, 2022.

We are waiting until the last bell  

The list of Novaya Europa includes eight companies which  announced the sale of their Russian assets only at the end of the second year of a full-scale war. Almost all of them, except for the Belgian brewing company AB InBev, managed to come to an agreement with the Russian authorities and received consent to the deal.

Turkish Anadolu Efes, the owner of half of one of Russia’s largest brewing companies AB InBev Efes, has announced the purchase of the second half from its partner, the world’s largest beer producer AB InBev. The deal announcement emphasizes that the completion of the transaction can be discussed only after its approval by the regulatory authorities. Nothing has been reported that the Russian authorities have given such consent.

AB InBev announced its intention to sell its stake a long time ago — two months after the start of the war. The deal could not be completed for so long, not because the Belgians could not come to an agreement with the Russian authorities, but because “it is a matter of dividing the business at the international level between AB InBev and Anadolu Efes,” says our source in the beer market. And besides, the departure of the Belgian company turned out to be very conditional: AB InBev managed to leave without leaving, because it owns 24% of the shares of Anadolu Efes. This means that the European brewer will continue to earn money on the Russian beer market, but will retain its reputation.

Among the automakers, Hyundai, Kia and Volvo were late at the exit.  Their competitors have already sold factories — but these three concerns were in no hurry to get to the end.  At the end of the year Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia, which owned 70% and 30% of the automobile plant in St. Petersburg, received consent to sell their enterprise to the Russian company Art Finance LLC. The Russian authorities said Hyundai would have a two-year option to buy back. And in the third quarter of 2023, Volvo reported  it had received permission to sell its truck manufacturing plant in Kaluga, which has since managed to change several owners.

Next to exit

The lawyers interviewed by Novaya-Europa, who are familiar with the plans of the global companies in Russia, do not have a consensus view on how this process will develop further. Some believe that under pressure from public opinion, companies will continue to try to leave. Others believe that everyone who wanted to has left already;  the rest have adapted to the new conditions and learned how to earn money in them.

“They will try to get rid of the assets, as the pressure on them is strong,” says one of the lawyers working in Russia,  who asked not to be named. And they will do this not because of money, because “there is little economic sense in selling assets, money can’t be withdrawn from Russia anyway,” but “it’s more about social responsibility, reputation, and so on.” At the same time, he believes, “there are those who hope to return to the market which is large and attractive. Bridges are not being burned – they are maintained, and will be preserved. But these are not the same bridges, of course. It won’t be the same as before.”

But not everyone will be able to return: “In the case of someone who has already quarrelled,  they will not return here,” the lawyer said, and cited the example of Siemens, which completely withdrew from the energy, engineering and financial business in Russia in 2022, selling assets and stopping supplies and service.

Source:  -- May 12, 2022

Yegor Noskov, managing partner of the lawfirm, Duvernois Legal,  has a different point of view. Those who decided in the spring of 2022 that their image losses from continuing to work in Russia exceeded their possible profits have left. “Other companies have found that the profits generated from the Russian market are too significant for their business and exceed image losses, and remain on the market, making record profits”, says the lawyer, and cites Raiffeisen as an example.

This configuration will continue in 2024, Noskov believes: “I think those who left will not return until the end of the military operations, and perhaps not for a long while after.” And those who remain will not sell their business, but will adapt to the situation using either other brands or all kinds of schemes allowing them to maintain a presence in the market, but avoid direct affiliation of the Russian assets with the parent companies abroad, Noskov says.

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  1. ciroc

    Putin acted wisely. Greedy capitalists are always concerned about sunk costs, so if Moscow had nationalized the production facilities of enemy companies, as the Communists did in Latin America, they would have used every means at their disposal, including regime change in Russia, to reclaim their property.

    1. Altandmain

      The West is already trying to overthrow Putin by all means at their disposal, including lying to the world, using intelligence agencies, providing more and more military weapons to Ukraine, etc.

      Russia had good reasons to do it this way – the first is that the West claims to be guardians of “property rights” in stark contrast to the socialists that nationalize private property. When the West froze Russia’s foreign reserve assets, they showed themselves to be liars and hypocrites.

      The second is by not nationalizing, first Putin has a bargaining chip. The Western companies in Russia have something to lose.

      Another is to win over the Global South and indicate that Russia is still safe for investment as opposed to the West which will steal your money if your nation doesn’t follow their geopolitical diktats.

      Putin and Russia itself tend to be very legalistic in their approach. It’s worked well and the bulk of the world isn’t sanctioning Russia. The West’s sanctions war is hurting the Europeans more so than Russia.

  2. Maxwell Johnston

    Nice summary. Interesting detail on Raiffeisen Bank; I did not know that their RU business was such a large % of their overall profits.

    One more category that I did not see mentioned in the article: companies that have left RU but with a call option to return and buy back their business if things eventually calm down. McDonalds, Nissan, and Renault, among others:,for%20the%20French%20carmaker's%20return.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Renault did get rid* of it’s Moskvich factory, which is now building** 50,000 Moskvich 3 (Chinese Sehol X4) per year. This year they will start replacing some parts of the car with domestically produced parts.

      The final goal is to create a network of subcontractors for (mostly) domestic electric car in the future, so I don’t think Renault will return to Moscow soon.

      * by selling it to the city of Moscow
      ** re-installing engine, suspension and wheels to a Chinese build car

    2. Zephyrum

      Raiffeisen in Russia is one of the few places where diplomats and like officials from other countries can establish an account and wire money back and forth, which suggests its Russian presence is considered convenient by authorities in the West. However the bank no longer allows foreigners to establish new accounts in Russia unless they have official status–or perhaps vast wealth. Virtually all of the other Russian banks are excluded from the Swift system of course. There are other legal ways to transfer money in and out of Russia; it’s just a bit circuitous.

  3. A man upon whom you absolutely can't rely

    Is corporations profiting from both sides of conflict ahistorical? Rather, isn’t the purpose of incorporating in multiple nations is to hold assets during war and political crises? Congratulations must be in order, for Putin hasn’t inadvertantly destroyed the Lex mercatoria (merchant law) enjoyed by Russians since the medieval period.

    Putin IS winning his long war against the Ruble, currently exchanging at only one-third of its 2013 value against the dollar. Being able to produce less things, less affordably is not the cue for a victory lap. Neither is having to BUY munition from North Korea and Iran during Russia’s time of need. No one really believes Putin’s cause, pursuit of the “Velikiy” (“Great”) added to his legacy, is worthy of donations to the war effort, as opposed to the Ukrainian cause. Certainly, the Literati will document Putin’s assassination campaign against sister journalists. And note that Putin spent 21 of the last 24 years waging either a declared or undeclared war with mixed results. But maybe the next six years will see Putin turn it around. China takes the long view on such matters; the PLA recent shoring up against chaos and collapse on its border with Russia is not a vote of confidence in favor of Putin stability this election season.

  4. Michael.j

    A brilliant article revealing the psychology of the human brain, if you carefully think about it.

    To me the take home point of that if you invest heavily in time, sweat and effort, and connect with a community, a governmental edict from afar will not change your behavior.

    Specifically, why give up all that you have worked so hard at, just because someone thousands of miles away, who does not really give a s••t about you tells you to do something that is not to your immediate benefit?

    I think this point can be generalized to many other issues such as actions concerning climate change, war, etc,etc.

  5. cousinAdam

    I dove into this post before even skimming Links upon seeing that it was provided by John Helmer. Thanks to our brilliant and incredibly modest host, I’ve become a huge fan of Dances with Bears – the MH-17 and “novichock” sagas for starters and his astounding, relentless journalistic integrity. “The eyes can be deceived, but the nose knows!” (h/t Snoopy and Charles M. Shultz). His ability to delve into facets of Russian economy, global geopolitics and Kremlin intrigue never ceases to amaze me. And the ‘Vicky Noodles’ cartoon at the top is one of his best evah (imho)!
    All praise aside, it took me three cups of coffee to digest what I was reading- the intros by both Yves and Helmer gave fair warning of the corporate/political jungle that lay ahead and I found myself re-reading paragraphs multiple times to follow who owned how much of what, when and cui bono? Not to mention that the report was authored by an ostensibly western team of contributors. My takeaway? The Russian Federation is on a roll, and so is the rouble (how can I buy some?) The Arctic is getting warmer and the North Sea shipping route is gonna increasingly be a big game changer. Corporations that chose to hunker down and make nice with the Kremlin (and oligarchs) are destined to fatten their bottom line. What’s the Russian equivalent to “Benjamins”? My morning reading time is history- hope I can get to Links etc before the day is over. Well done, nonetheless!

  6. digi_owl

    Speaking of Mondelez, they have over the years become the owner of many of the brands that one could consider the soul of Norway.

  7. hk

    Interesting bit about Hyundai. Heard something similar about Samsung, too. SK businesses and diplomats have been wiser than the politicians there.

  8. Hastalavictoria

    Great article,from a layman’s perspective but wearing a business man’s hat faced with an unknown future with X volatility a hedge via a little foot in the enemy camp makes good sense rather than burning all bridges.

    They are maybe also looking back historically to the Third Reich and the many Allied companies who profitably traded with it

  9. Bill Malcolm

    Having read that article in some depth and not just skimming it, I have to give Helmer credit. That’s a hell of lot of research work, no matter how it was gathered and over what exact time period.

    However, one is left with an overall picture that is quite confusing. Sure, there were the loudmouth companies who bitterly complained and stormed off in disgust at the SMO onset, but with a brewer like AB Inbev, the Brazilian 3G capital behind them, and as such the world’s biggest brewer of milquetoast beers from once-storied but now just brand name suds, a market of only 150 million thirsty Russians isn’t going to affect them much. Are Russians well-known beer drinkers? And Carlsberg can squawk all it wants on behalf of the Danes — who cares? Denmark still thinks it might implement the stopping of shipping in and out of the Baltic Sea to check on Russian contraband — must be some NATO connection, because dumb-thinking is dumb thinking. Although, Danish butter is really quite remarkably tasty, I must admit, and their bacon is superb, not the muck we get in North America.

    The case of Volvo Cars is of some interest to me. Ford flogged it off cheap to a private Chinese person back in 2010, whose trade name is Geely. The company is privately held by entrepreneur Li Shufu. He almost makes Musk look like an also-ran, and in the conventional business sense, there’s no question about it. Musk and his stock prices are specious investor fluff and market speculation by contrast. Musk is a rank amateur and loudmouth by comparison, in my opinion. Because 99% of people have never heard of Li Shufu, and many car enthusiasts in the West think Geely and Volvo are Chinese government entities. Nope. But hey, a little neocon-inspired misdirected hate on the part of “well-informed”, ha ha, American internet basement warriors is welcomed by the Blob and Trump alike.

    Just quite incredible. Reads like a fantasy novel.

    In a little over a decade, Li managed to buy 9.5% of the stock of Mercedes-Benz (once Daimler AG), build three various Volvo factories in China, another one for his Lynk & Co brand in China, a Polestar plant in China, a Volvo plant in South Carolina, buy a Danish trading bank, and then buy a huge chunk of Volvo trucks, which is an entirely different enterprise from Volvo Cars. Oh, and I almost forgot, Li Shufu makes Geely Cars as well, plus the company that makes the fabled London taxis, plus owns Lotus Cars in the UK.

    Six or so years ago, he decided to build all Volvo S-90 sedans in China, and ship the product to his main Volvo production centre in Ghent, Belgium (no, Sweden isn’t his biggest production hub). The cars were shipped in special container trains from China to Europe via the Trans Siberian railway! Stopped now, of course, with sanctions.

    It’s hard to rationalize what Helmer says about Volvo Truck in Russia, with the economic friendship of China with Russia, and the takeover of the Russian automotive sales market by Chinese firms. Cannot imagine “Volvo” is in deep doo-doo with Poutine, as Ray McGovern insists on mispronouncing his name for the Quebecois cheese curd, fries and gravy fast er, um, food.

    However, who really knows? And therein lies the total confusion surrounding “Western” foreign companies operating in Russia or leaving or threatening to leave or just jabbering mindlessly out loud. Despite Helmer’s deep dig, the situation seems as clear as mud, really. To me, at least.

    Putin made a joke about the suicide of the German car industry just the other day. Try as I might, I cannot now find the Tass article on its opaque website, sorry. He was having a good laugh, btw. Not that the German Greens care, even as they strip mine the German countryside for lignite with two of the world’s biggest mobile diggers, like towns on wheels. To feed thermal power plants for electricity and to hell with pollution. Germany is so screwed, it’s hard to believe. They cannot apparently face nasty facts starkly staring them in the face. Kind of like Biden and Blinken on Ukraine and Gaza, let alone the poleaxed Israeli Jewish populace.

    1. hk

      Thanks for the info about Volvo. Its mention struck me as a bit odd since I vaguely knew that it was sold to a Chinese investor, but didn’t know the larger background. Curiouser and curiouser!

    2. Ludus57

      Interesting comment about InBev. Thanks.
      Here in the UK, one of the many, many disasters of Thatcherism has been the decimation of the traditional English pub, and the brewing industry. Many interesting regional brewers have disappeared, but some of their ales survive in name only, due to the practice of the large and multinational brewers buying them out to capitalise on their names and reputation.
      Pubs themselves were parcelled off into what were essentially property companies, and have been closing all over the country at an alarming rate, often being converted to other purposes.
      But, I am pleased to report that I am typing this in the pub!

      1. Robert Gray

        One element that is often overlooked in discussions of the ‘decimation of the traditional English pub’ seen in recent decades is that many of those now-gone premises were located in rural or outskirts areas where a paucity of public transport (except expensive taxis) meant that customers were wont to drive home. As increased enforcement of drink-driving controls became more widespread (and surely that is good for society), such pubs were no longer profitable.

    3. Polar Socialist

      The former Volvo Kaluga factory is now making Ural NEXT trucks. It’s new owner is Industrial Investment Group, apparently associated with the former owner of the Ural plant. I don’t think Volvo left Russia because of trouble in Russia, but because of the “image”, which in The West is everything.

      What I’ve read, or misunderstood, Russia had only few options to quickly replace the leaving automakers. Basically China and Iran, and the Iranian cars (unfortunately) compete directly with AvtoVAZ Lada. While Chinese cars did have an image issue in Russia, I’ve read that this winter has proved them to be pretty good for Russian climate.

      Nevertheless, I’ve also understood Russian industrialist see Chinese cars still as a stopgap until the domestic production picks up properly, while Chinese corporations probably hope to retain a good slice of the market. We’ll see how it goes.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        “While Chinese cars did have an image issue in Russia, I’ve read that this winter has proved them to be pretty good for Russian climate. ”

        That’s interesting. A big part of the image issue from what I’ve seen is that Chinese cars are poorly-adapted to the Russian climate (their image has improved tremendously, but that complaint remains). Maybe that changed recently, though.

        1. Polar Socialist

          You know better than I do :-)

          I wish I remembered where I saw that information, but it was some weeks ago, right after the extreme cold passed.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          The north of China does have very severe winters, and the high humidity of much of China isn’t kind to cars either, so I’d be surprised if Chinese cars struggle in uncooperative climates. Although I suspect that most Chinese cars are stored in shelter over the winter (lots of underground carparks and private garages) in contrast to much of Russia where (it appears to me) that most cars are expected to stay out in the cold.

          A lot of ideas about cars are really myths built up by marketing etc (like the obviously false idea that German cars are very reliable while French cars aren’t), but they can be very persistent, especially if local producers have an excuse to keep the myths alive. The Koreans have proven you can break a perception over time (i.e. that their cars were cheap and cheerful junk), but it may take a couple of decades to do it.

          That said, Russia would be very unwise to be too open to Chinese car imports. China has vastly overinvested in capacity so will quite happily swamp any market to destroy local competition.

  10. CA

    February 5, 2024

    Volvo Cars reports 10 pct sales increase in January

    STOCKHOLM — Sales of Volvo Cars registered a 10-percent rise in January 2024 year on year, following 17 months of consecutive growth, the company said on Monday.

    The automaker sold 53,402 cars last month globally, with the Chinese market, where 16,042 cars were sold, seeing the largest increase of 36 percent. In Europe, the sales grew by 8 percent to reach 23,141 cars and the U.S. market, where 7,716 cars were sold, remained unchanged from the same period of 2023.

    Volvo Cars, which was acquired by the Chinese automaker Geely in 2010, aims to exclusively produce fully electric cars by 2030. Fully electric cars accounted for 17 percent of the company’s global sales in January, the automaker said in a press release.

    Volvo Cars said last week that the year 2023 was a record-breaking year with 708,716 cars sold and the highest revenue and sales profit in the company’s 97-year history.

    In 2023, the company’s revenue increased by 21 percent to 399.3 billion Swedish kronor (37.9 billion U.S. dollars), while the underlying operating profit excluding joint ventures and associates increased by 43 percent to 25.6 billion kronor. (1 Swedish krona = 0.095 U.S. dollar)

    1. CA

      January 5, 2024

      Volvo Cars sets all-time sales record in 2023

      STOCKHOLM — Volvo Cars set a new global sales record in 2023, with 708,716 cars sold during the year, the carmaker said on Friday.

      While sales across all segments increased by 15 percent compared to 2022, sales of fully-electric cars increased by 70 percent to 113,419, Volvo said.

      The results show Volvo Cars’ “strong electrified product portfolio in combination with a more stabilized supply chain,” it added.

      In Europe, 294,794 cars were sold, an increase of 19 percent compared to the same period in 2022. Meanwhile, sales in China grew 5 percent from 2022 to 170,091, and sales in the United States were up 26 percent to 128,701 cars.

      Volvo Cars, which was acquired by Chinese automaker Geely in 2010, aims to be a climate-neutral company by 2040.

      The carmaker, which is headquartered in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, had around 43,200 full-time staff in 2022.

      Its main production plants are situated in Gothenburg, Ghent (Belgium), South Carolina (the United States), and the Chinese cities of Chengdu, Daqing and Taizhou. The company also has research and development and design centers in Gothenburg, Camarillo (the United States) and Shanghai (China).

      Last year, Volvo Cars also opened a new Tech Hub in Singapore, which will focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and Industry 4.0 technologies.

  11. Zephyrum

    Vkusno i tochka / Вкусно – и точка (“Tasty…period”) makes an excellent burger, at least two levels above McDonald’s in the US, maybe three. It was always a premium restaurant in Russia, even a place you might take a date, but has only improved since the ownership transition. Except for the fries. The downside is that their burger is messy, as good burgers should be, and you can never get enough napkins. So I call it Вкусно без салфеток (“Tasty without napkins”) which the Russians find amusing because it’s true.

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