Dutch brewing giant Heineken has completed its exit from Russia, selling its activities there for a token €1 to Russian industrial group Arnest and making a €300 million loss in the process.
Heineken had seven breweries and a workforce of 1,800 in Russia. It withdrew all its Heineken brand products in 2022 after the invasion of Ukraine and the production of Amstel will now be wound down, the company said in a statement on Friday.
No other international brands will be licensed in Russia with the exception of a 3-year licence for some smaller regional brands which are required to ensure business continuity and secure transaction approval, Heineken said.
In addition, the company will provide no brand support and will receive no proceeds, royalties or fees from Russia.
Recent developments demonstrate the significant challenges faced by large manufacturing companies in leaving the Russian market, said chief executive Dolf van den Brink. “While it took much longer than we had hoped, this transaction secures the livelihoods of our employees and allows us to exit the country in a responsible manner.”
Investigative website Follow the Money revealed in March that the launch of 61 new products in Russia last year, including new varieties of Amstel, was signed off by Heineken head office in Amsterdam.
The company initially said that Heineken Russia was a fully independent operation and issued a press released describing the reports as ‘absolutely untrue and misleading’.
But later it released a new statement admitting headquarters had approved the plan, which was ‘necessary to prevent liquidation’.
Heineken also admitted that the process of uncoupling its Russian business had not yet started, despite saying last year that it had already begun to scale down its activities.