Heineken, Universal Music join Russia exodus

Heineken said it was stopping the production, advertising and sale of its namesake brand in Russia. PHOTO: REUTERS

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch brewer Heineken and Universal Music Group have become the latest Western firms to halt operations in Russia over Moscow's war in Ukraine.

Italian luxury sports car manufacturer Ferrari meanwhile said it was suspending deliveries to Russia.

Heineken, the world's second-biggest beer company said on Wednesday (March 9) it was stopping the production, advertising and sale of its namesake brand in Russia "in response to the continued escalation of the war".

Heineken had already suspended new investments and exports to Russia last week.

"We are shocked and saddened to watch the tragedy in Ukraine unfold," Heineken chief executive Dolf van den Brink said in a statement.

"The Russian government's war against Ukraine is an unprovoked and completely unjustified attack," he said.

Heineken employs 1,800 people in Russia and says it is the third-biggest brewer in the country, where it makes the Zhigulevskoe and Oxota brands for the local market.

The brewer said it would take "immediate steps to ring-fence" its Russian business from the rest of its global operations "to stop the flow of monies, royalties and dividends out of Russia".

"Heineken will no longer accept any net financial benefit derived from our Russian operations," it said.

Heineken's other famous brands include Amstel, Tiger and Strongbow cider.

About 300 companies have announced their withdrawal from Russia since it invaded neighbouring Ukraine, according to Yale University researchers.

McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Starbucks joined the crowd on Tuesday following public pressure to do so.

Also on Tuesday, Universal Music Group, the world's biggest label, said it was suspending all operations and closing its offices in Russia effective immediately.

"We urge an end to the violence in Ukraine as soon as possible," Universal said in a statement.

"We are adhering to international sanctions and, along with our employees and artists, have been working with groups from a range of countries ... to support humanitarian relief efforts to bring urgent aid to refugees in the region," it said.

Elsewhere, French rail giant Alstom announced on Wednesday that it was suspending deliveries to Russia as well as future business investments there.

But Alstom said it was keeping its stake in Russian locomotives and rail equipment provider Transmashholding.

Ferrari, which has no factories in Russia and is represented there by two independent dealerships, sells less than 100 cars every year in Russia, out of more than 11,000 delivered worldwide last year.

The Italian company on Tuesday announced a donation of one million euros (S$1.5 million) "to support the Ukrainians in need".

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