These companies are still doing business in Russia
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, there has been a mass exodus of companies from Russia. The pace of these withdrawals from Russia has intensified as the Russian military adopted increasingly brutal tactics, including targeting Ukrainian civilians. Hundreds of companies — from Adidas to Shell to McDonald's — have severed or suspended their economic activities in Russia.
There are two main rationales for companies to cut ties with Russia. Some companies were partnering with state-owned enterprises and, therefore, helping fund Russia's assault on Ukraine. Exxon, for example, operated "a vast oil and natural gas project" in eastern Russia. While Exxon had a 30% stake in the project, its partners included Rosneft, which is owned by the Russian government. On March 1, Exxon announced it would "discontinue operations" and "exit" the joint venture.
In other cases, companies are suspending operations to create political pressure to end the war. Russian despot Vladamir Putin has eliminated virtually all legitimate media in the country. He has blocked access to "major foreign news outlets" and social media networks. Further, Russia recently enacted "a law to punish anyone spreading 'false information' about its Ukraine invasion with up to 15 years in prison." McDonald's was pressured to close its 847 Russian restaurants as a way of communicating Russia's isolation to the Russian people and intensifying domestic discontent.
But a number of prominent companies have decided, at least for now, to continue business as usual in Russia.
Halliburton, for example, is a major operator of oilfields in Russia. The head of Ukraine's state-owned natural gas company, Oleg Tolmachev, personally appealed to Halliburton and other oilfield operators to cease their operations in Russia. “Please terminate your business in Russia immediately and shut down your offices in Russian Federation,” Tolmachev wrote. “My employees and their families in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Lugansk, and Poltava regions are getting killed and wounded by military forces of Russian Federation.” Tolmachev said Halliburton and other companies in the industry could play a key role in starving the Russian military of cash.
In a January 22, 2022 shareholder call, Haliburton said it anticipated "steady, profitable growth" and "higher utilization for our existing equipment" in Russia. CEO Jeff Miller brushed aside a question about whether "escalating tensions [and] sabre rattling in Ukraine" created any risk to the company's "growth" in Russia:
Look, these are things we’ve seen and done before. Always unfortunate in so many ways for so many people. But from a business perspective, we’ve managed these sorts of things up and down for, I hate to say, nearly 100 years. So, these are the kinds of things that we would manage through.
While Exxon, BP, and Shell have announced their exits from Russia after the invasion, Halliburton has not "shared any change in plans for operations in the country." Halliburton did not return Popular Information's request for comment.
Halliburton, however, is not the only company trying to continue business-as-usual in Russia.
Hyatt operates six locations in Russia, including the Ararat Park Hyatt luxury hotel in Moscow. According to Reuters, the company said it “would suspend development in Russia,” but did not specify if it had plans to suspend its existing business.
In a statement posted on the company’s website last week, Hyatt said, “We are heartbroken over the devastation unfolding in Ukraine and the mounting tragedies resulting from military actions, loss of life and the dislocation of thousands of people. Our immediate focus is on the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and guests in both Ukraine and neighboring countries who face these unconscionable challenges.” The statement did not mention Hyatt’s business in Russia. Hyatt did not respond to a request for comment.
Burger King has “roughly 800 fully franchised Burger King restaurants in Russia, managed by independent local operators.” On Tuesday, Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International (RBI), released a statement that said, “We are watching the attack on Ukraine and its people with horror and are focusing our efforts in the region on contributing to the safety of Ukrainians seeking shelter and security for their families.”
The statement also announced that Burger King has committed $3 million to “immediately support Ukrainian refugees” and that RBI is “redirecting its profits from franchised operations in Russia to humanitarian efforts.” Burger King franchisees are also “partnering with local NGOs to distribute $2 [million] of free Whopper meal vouchers to Ukrainian refugees” arriving in “more than 25 countries across Europe.” The statement did not address the company's ongoing business in Russia. Burger King did not respond to Popular Information’s request for comment.
On February 28, Citi announced that its “total exposure in Russia amounts to nearly $10 billion.” Citi, which has the “largest presence of any U.S. bank” in Russia, ranked Russia as 21 on its top 25 country exposures.
“Citi continues to monitor the current Russia-Ukraine geopolitical situation and economic conditions and will mitigate its exposures and risks as appropriate,” the bank said last week. Citigroup has also promised “financial services” to international corporations that are adjusting their presence in Russia. Citi did not respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, Philip Morris International (PMI) announced that Russia accounted for “almost 10 percent of PMI’s total cigarette and heated tobacco unit shipment volume in 2021 and around 6 percent of PMI’s total net revenues.”
Yesterday, Philip Morris reported that it was suspending its “planned investments in the Russian Federation.” The company also pledged to “scale down manufacturing operations” in Russia. The planned investments included “new product launches as well as commercial, innovation[,] and manufacturing investments.”
According to Barron’s, when asked if the company would be halting the sales of its cigarettes in Russia, a spokesman said “the company had no additional details to share.” Philip Morris did not respond to Popular Information’s request for comment.
Pirelli produces an “estimated 10 [percent] of its tires” in Russia, and has spent the last decade expanding its production in Russia. At the end of January, Pirelli CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera also led a video conference with Putin and other Italian business leaders to discuss “developing and exploring new opportunities and building new dialogue.”
Pirelli has not announced any changes to its business in Russia, and did not respond to a request for comment.
While the specific details of Bridgestone’s business in Russia have not been disclosed, the company “operates several facilities” in Russia, and opened its first manufacturing plant in the country in 2016.
Bridgestone has stayed silent on whether or not it will continue to operate in Russia, and did not respond to Popular Information’s request for comment.
Marriott operates at least 28 properties in Russia.
“We are deeply concerned to see the humanitarian crisis impacting the people of Ukraine and neighbouring countries,” Marriott said in a statement published last week. The company is “working with charitable organizations on the ground focused on providing meals, healthcare and safe water, with a number of hotels also providing accommodation and supplies to refugees fleeing their homes.” Marriott Bonvoy members can donate points to support UNICEF and World Central Kitchen efforts in Ukraine.
The company, however, has not suspended its operations in Russia. Recently, in what appears to be an attempt to defend the company’s decision, Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano shared that properties in Russia “make up less than 1% of the company’s total fee volume.” The company did not respond to Popular Information’s request for comment.
Hilton operates 29 locations in Russia and has not announced plans to suspend its hotel operations.
Yesterday, the company announced that it was closing its corporate office in Moscow and halting all new development activity in Russia. The company also announced a program that allows customers to donate reward points toward aid efforts in Ukraine.
“Hilton joins those around the world in shock and disbelief at the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine.” the company said in a statement. “Our hotels have always been part of the fabric of our communities that we serve, and we take seriously our promise to positively impact the places where we live and work.” The company did not respond to Popular Information’s request for comment.
Oilfield service provider Baker Hughes has refused to comment on its operations in Russia. JPMorgan analysts estimate that the company is second to Halliburton when it comes to exposure in the country. In recent years, Baker Hughes has targeted Russia as a priority market and in June 2021 formed an agreement with Rosneft, the Russian state-controlled oil company. The company did not respond to Popular Information’s request for comment.
UPDATE: Marriott released this statement on Thursday morning regarding its business in Russia: https://news.marriott.com/news/2022/03/10/marriott-international-statement