More than 1,200 multinational companies have curtailed or abandoned business ties with Russia, in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to data assembled by the Yale School of Management. Its authoritative list of businesses, updated weekly, plays a key role in the praising and shaming of companies that have, or have not, taken political action in Russia.
Why does this matter? Beyond ethics, recent research shows that financial markets are rewarding companies for leaving Russia while punishing those that remain, with consumers taking a similar stance.
Brussels has been one of the most critical voices against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But several EU nations have not toed the party line.
It may come as no surprise, therefore, that Hungary is the EU member that has seen its businesses withdraw from Russia the least – since Viktor Orban is, by far, the least critical EU leader towards Russia. Similarly, Serbia (albeit a non-EU country) has also seen very little business action since its leader, Aleksandar Vučić, is the most pro-Putin advocate on the European continent.
After Hungary, companies from Slovenia, Austria, France and Italy (in the order) have been the next slowest movers among the EU.
EU-based companies that are avoiding political action may believe they are taking economic advantage of the situation. However, as previously mentioned, the wrath of markets and consumers remains strong, especially in the West. Inaction is unlikely to pay off.