Business

Many of the world's biggest firms have abandoned Russia. 10 of them wrote off $30 billion in 3 days

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Anti-war demonstrators and Ukrainians living in UK protest against Russia's military operation in Ukraine in London, United Kingdom.
  • Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to global condemnation, a raft of sanctions, and major companies cutting ties.
  • Some of the world's biggest companies such as Apple, Shell, and Disney have suspended their operations in Russia.
  • We list the 10 largest companies that have either ditched their investments altogether, or suspended business with Russia. 
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has elicited widespread condemnation from governments and companies around the world. Western nations have unleashed unprecedented sanctions on Russia that have already cut off and battered what was the world's 11th largest economy.

Russian banks have been banned from the SWIFT international payments system, the central bank cannot access most of its $630-billion foreign currency arsenal, the assets of prominent oligarchs are being seized and shares in the country's biggest companies have been ditched from major indices. The ruble has tanked to record lows and Russia's credit rating has been slashed to junk.

It's not just Russia's financial markets that have felt the pain. Within less than a day of President Vladimir Putin's forces invading, some of the world's largest companies announced they would no longer do business with Russia. In the oil and gas sector, BP, Shell and Exxon alone had written off around $30 billion in investments in Russia, one of the biggest energy exporters.

A mass exodus Russia followed, with companies from automakers, to entertainment and streaming companies, cutting ties with a country where they had operated for decades, many since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Here are the ten largest companies to have either exited Russia completely or suspended any business activity with the country: 

Apple

Market cap: $2.7 trillion
Sector: Consumer electronics

The world's most valuable company by market value, Apple has stopped selling its products in Russia. It is also limiting Apple Pay and disabling live incidents and traffic status from Apple Maps in Ukraine for the safety of Ukrainian citizens, it said. 

Apple condemned the invasion and said all exports to Russian sales channels were stopped last week.

Apple's iPhones were the third best-selling smartphones in Russia and supplied 13% of all phones sold, according to Counterpoint research reported by BBC.

BP

Market cap: $96.1 billion
Sector: Oil and gas exploration

Energy companies have been Russia's most significant investors and took the lead in cutting ties with the world's third-largest oil producer.

The first major energy companies to announce its departure from Russia was its biggest foreign investor, BP

Within days of the invasion, BP announced an end to its 30-year partnership with Russian state-controlled gas company Rosneft following the invasion and will exit its 20% stake. The move would cost BP $25 billion and cut the British energy giant's global oil and gas production by a third.

BP chair Helge Lund said: "BP has operated in Russia for over 30 years, working with brilliant Russian colleagues. However, this military action represents a fundamental change."

Shell

Market cap: $200.84 billion

Sector: Oil and gas exploration

Hours after BP's decision, Shell followed suit and said it would exit its Russian operations. Shellannounced it would divest from its joint ventures with Russian majority state-owned energy company Gazprom and related entities, including its 27.5% stake in the Sakhalin-II liquefied natural gas facility, its 50% stake in the Salym Petroleum Development and the Gydan energy venture. It will also pull out of the virtually defunct Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

"We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression which threatens European security," Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

Shell had around $3 billion worth of assets in its Russian ventures at the end of 2021, the company said.

ExxonMobil

Market cap: $342.54 billion
Sector: Oil and gas exploration

ExxonMobil followed its rivals within two days. The energy company said on Tuesday it would discontinue Russian oil and gas operations, valued at over $4 billion, and develop steps to exit the Sakhalin-1 venture, one of the largest international direct investments in Russia. 

ExxonMobil said it would not invest in new developments in Russia and condemned the war. The company said in a statement that it supported the international response to the invasion and would comply with all sanctions.

HSBC

Market cap: $135 billion 
Sector: Banking and finance

HSBC said it would wind down relations with a host of Russian banks including the second-largest, VTB, which was targeted by sanctions, according to Reuters.

HSBC has annual revenues of $15 million in Russia.

Volkswagen

Market cap: $107.45 billion

Sector: Automotive

German vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen, which owns luxury brands Porsche and Audi, as well as the Seat and Skoda brands, said on March 3 it would suspend deliveries of cars to dealers in the country immediately and halt the production of vehicles at its two Russian sites.

VW delivered 216,000 vehicles to Russia, about 2.4% of its global sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Disney

Market cap: $263.57 billion
Sector:
Entertainment

Disney became the first major entertainment company to halt theatrical releases in Russia.

The company behind Mickey Mouse that also owns the Star Wars and Marvel mega-franchises will stop releasing films in Russia because of the invasion. Disney had a number of release lined up for the Russian market in the coming months.

Netflix

Market cap: $163.307 billion
Sector: Streaming services

The streaming giant halted all future projects and acquisitions in Russia after the invasion. Netflix also refused to air Russian state channels, defying the country's broadcast laws.

Four Netflix original Russian programs were suspended, with ongoing production for one Russian series stopped. Netflix, whose original catalogue includes blockbuster series such as "The Crown" and "Bridgerton", is thought to have about 1 million subscribers in Russia, according to the Guardian.

Mastercard

Market cap: $336.9 billion
Sector: Payments and finance

Top global payments processor Mastercard on March 1, a day after the invasion, blocked several Russian financial institutions from using their payment networks following the sanctions.

The company said it would work with regulators to adhere to compliance obligations.

Visa

Market cap: $450.25 billion

Sector: Payments and finance

Rival payments network Visa also blocked Russian companies from using its network.

"Visa is taking prompt action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, and is prepared to comply with additional sanctions that may be implemented," the company said. "Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people and all those impacted. We hope for a peaceful resolution soon."

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