Dutch brewer Heineken announced on Monday that he would be exiting Russia, a move that highlights the pressure from multinationals they face to move beyond simply suspending operations in the country and follows in the footsteps of Heineken’s rival Carlsberg.
Heineken’s strategy in Russia evolved as the war continued for a second month. The Dutch company first said it would stop new investment and exports to Russia, then, about three weeks ago, it said it would stop manufacturing, advertising and selling Heineken products there.
Monday marked a more decisive break from Russia. “We have concluded that Heineken’s ownership of the business in Russia is no longer sustainable or viable in the current environment,” the company said. Heineken will continue to curtail operations in Russia – for the safety of its employees and to “minimize the risk of nationalization” or being brought under state ownership, the brewer said – until it finds a buyer for it. the activity.
Faced with sanctions and corporate exodus, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has threatened to take control of the activities of Western companies in the country.
Heineken’s departure also illustrates how companies are trying to balance loyalty to shareholders, employees and society. Heineken’s decision followed a similar path to that of Danish brewer Carlsberg, which has much broader exposure in Russia than the Dutch company. Carlsberg said last week he was also looking to sell his Russian assets.
Heineken said it will guarantee pay for its 1,800 employees in Russia until the end of the year. The withdrawal from Russia will cost Heineken, which has around 82,000 workers worldwide, about 400 million euros, according to the company.
Changing public expectations of companies informed the corporate response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. For example, although Heineken was criticized for continuing to brew beer in Rwanda during the genocide, it did not face a backlash. And Coca-Cola was selling drinks in Nazi Germany.