Dutch brewer Heineken on Monday joined the foreign business exodus from Russia over the war in Ukraine, saying it was “deeply saddened” to see the conflict intensify.
The beer company, which employs 1,800 people in Russia, had already halted the sale and production of its Heineken brand in Russia, and suspended new investments and exports to the country earlier this month.
Hundreds of Western firms have closed shops and offices in Russia since the war started, a list that includes famous names such as Ikea, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs and MacDonald’s.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to watch the war in Ukraine continue to unfold and intensify,” Heineken said in a statement.
“Following the previously announced strategic review of our operations, we have concluded that Heineken’s ownership of the business in Russia is no longer sustainable nor viable in the current environment,” the statement said.
“As a result, we have decided to leave Russia.”
Heineken said it would aim for an “orderly transfer” of its business to a new owner in compliance with international and local laws and would not take any profit from the transaction, which will cost the company 400 million euros ($438 million) in exceptional charges.
Heineken is the third-biggest brewer in Russia, where it makes the Zhigulevskoe and Oxota brands for the local market
The company said it would continue on reduced operations during a transition period to reduce the risk of nationalisation and “ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of our employees”.
“In all circumstances we guarantee the salaries of our 1,800 employees will be paid to the end of 2022 and will do our utmost to safeguard their future employment.”
Upon completion of the transfer Heineken will no longer have a presence in Russia.
The country has been hit by an onslaught of economic sanctions but foreign companies have also faced public pressure, and calls from the Ukrainian government, to leave Russia.
Some companies have remained in Russia, citing concerns about the fate of their employees or depriving ordinary Russians of vital goods.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used an address to France’s parliament last week to call on French companies still working in Russia to “stop sponsoring” aggression against his country.
Car giant Renault subsequently announced an immediate suspension of operations at its Moscow factory.
But the chief executive of French retail giant Auchan, Yves Claude, defended the company’s decision to remain in Russia, citing the need to keep staff employed.
Ukraine called for a global boycott of Auchan.