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Opinion: Lesser-known Western companies in Russia are avoiding political action

While many well-known Western companies were quick to exit Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, some have still to take action.

By Sebastian Shehadi

Hundreds of multinationals have withdrawn from Russia. But dozens have not.

More than 400 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

These range from household names such as IKEA to more obscure organisations like the International Cat Federation (which has banned Russian felines from international competitions).

Although these companies grow in number each day, a significant minority of multinationals in Russia (the vast majority of them Western) have remained silent on the issue and taken no public action to boycott or divest from the market. Below is a list of those, compiled by Yale School of Management – last dated 25 March. 

  • Acer
  • Alibaba
  • AstraZeneca
  • Asus
  • Auchan-Retail
  • Asus
  • Ball Corporation
  • Calfrac Well Services
  • Carrefour
  • Cersanit
  • Cloudflare
  • Credit Suisse
  • Didi
  • doTERRA
  • Decathlon
  • FM Global
  • Glencore
  • Grief
  • Gruma
  • Huawei
  • ID Logistics
  • International Paper
  • IPG Photonics
  • Knauf
  • Koch Industries
  • Lenovo
  • Leroy Merlin
  • Liebrecht & Wood
  • Manitowoc
  • Metro
  • MOLGroup
  • MSI
  • Naspers
  • Polpharma
  • Raiffeisen Bank International
  • SC Johnson
  • Soceite Generale
  • Tencent
  • Titan International
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Xiomi
  • Young Living

It is difficult to know why these companies, which include some major Western names, such as Credit Suisse and Carrefour, have opted for inaction on Russia while more than 400 others have exited the country. One can only assume that their boardrooms are divided, resulting in indecision, or that they have decisively opted to ‘ride this one out’. It is also possible, however, that a few of them are taking some form of clandestine action. Of particular note is the fact that there are proportionately fewer household brand names in the above list compared with the 400-plus companies that have taken political action (and to a significant degree). 

This goes to show how less ‘visible’ corporates are less fearful of a consumer backlash. In many respects, it is easier for them to evade ethical or political decisions. In this instance, however, their hitherto public inaction may be a costly miscalculation considering just how much global attention the Ukraine war is getting, and the degree to which it is likely to drag on. 

Understand the impact of the Ukraine conflict from a cross-sector perspective with the Global Data Executive Briefing: Ukraine Conflict

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