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6 April, 2022

French companies lead list of 131 that have not withdrawn from Russia

While hundreds of foreign companies in Russia have left, 131 have not. The vast majority are from North America and Europe, especially France.

By Sebastian Shehadi and Marina Leiva

More than 600 foreign companies in Russia, most of which are from Western countries, have suspended business activity in the country or announced plans to divest entirely since the start of the Ukraine invasion

Although these companies grow in number each day, a significant minority of multinationals in Russia (131 to be exact) have remained silent on the issue and taken no public action to boycott or divest from the market. The vast majority of these are from Western nations, namely France and the US. The rest are almost entirely from South East Asia, more specifically China, Taiwan and Hong Kong (in that order). 

In some respects this is unsurprising, since Europe and North America have been an enormous source of foreign investment to Russia over the past 30 years. On the other hand, it is notable to see that the US companies that have not taken action in Russia have fairly small consumer profiles (which somewhat helps them hide from public criticism), while the majority of French businesses are household names (in Europe, at least) – hence the public backlash that most of these have faced. The extent to which French companies have been the least active in withdrawing from Russia is an ever-growing source of controversy in French and EU politics. 

Similarly, the companies from China that have ‘stayed’, so to speak, are also household names – however, they have not faced a tidal wave of criticism from the West, or from their Chinese home market, more interestingly. In fact, quite the opposite. For example, the ride-hailing app Didi received significant public backlash in China after announcing that it would withdraw from the Russian market on 4 March. Chinese people took to the internet to accuse the country of giving in to US pressure, a development that showcases the widespread support for Russia among the Chinese population. In fact, so squeezed was Didi, that the company actually made a U-turn and said it would continue operating in Russia.

Listed here are the 131 companies that have not withdrawn from Russia, as compiled by Yale School of Management and last dated 6 April. Notably, not a single one of these are from Cyprus, despite the fact that the majority of foreign direct investment to Russia hails from there. Similarly, there are only a few Cypriot companies among the list of companies that have left Russia. This gives testimony to the fact that most Cypriot investment is just round-tripping: Russian money being channelled back through Cyprus (or other tax havens, as per the chart below).

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