Heineken sells its business in Russia for US$1 and completes its exit

Heineken announced its exit from Russia after selling its business in the country for a symbolic 1 euro ($1).

The Dutch beer maker said in a statement Friday that it had received the necessary approvals to sell its operations to Arnest Group, a Russian manufacturer, completing a withdrawal process it began in March 2022.

Heineken CEO Dolf van den Brink said that “recent developments demonstrate the significant challenges faced by large brewing companies in exiting Russia.”

“Although it has taken much longer than we expected, this transaction secures the livelihoods of our employees and allows us to exit the country responsibly,” he added.

The brewer expects to incur a total loss of 300 million euros (US$323 million) on the deal.

When Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a slew of multinational companies either left Russia or announced plans to do so. But over the past 18 months, the Kremlin has made it increasingly difficult for Western companies to sell their Russian assets.

Moreover, it is now forcing them to pay a hefty fee to the Russian government for such sales.

In March, Heineken said it had decided to “do everything possible” to prevent its Russian businesses from being nationalized, while leaving the country “as soon as possible.”

“Firstly, we do not believe that the Russian state or those closest to it have the best interests of our people at heart. Secondly, we are uncomfortable that the Russian state benefits from the forced appropriation of important business assets,” he said in a statement.

Arnest Group, which makes cosmetics, household goods and metal packaging for consumer goods, has offered Heineken’s 1,800 employees in Russia employment guarantees for the next three years as part of the deal.

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