Western companies lost €100bn in Russia since full-scale war in Ukraine
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Europe’s biggest companies have lost at least EUR 100 billion in Russia since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February, the FInancial Times reports.

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In a survey of 600 European groups’ annual reports and 2023 financial statements, the FT found out that 176 companies have recorded asset impairments, foreign exchange-related charges and other one-off expenses as a result of the sale, closure or reduction of Russian businesses. 

The total figure does not include the indirect macroeconomic effects of the war, such as higher energy or commodity prices.

Countries that have lost the most include the UK (over EUR 30 billion), Germany, and France (over EUR 20 billion each).

Moscow’s decision to expropriate the businesses of companies such as Fortum and Uniper (April 2023) and Danone and Carlsberg (July 2023) threatens other companies that have not yet shut down their operations with similar problems, the FT reports.

"Even if a company lost a lot of money leaving Russia, those who stay risk much bigger losses. It turns out that cut and run was the best strategy for companies deciding what to do at the start of the war. The faster you left, the lower your loss", Nabi Abdullaev, partner at strategic consultancy Control Risks, told the Financial Times.

The biggest writedowns and charges were declared by oil and gas groups, with three companies alone — BP, Shell and TotalEnergies — reporting combined charges of EUR 40.6 billion. Those, however, were far outweighed by higher oil and gas prices.

Western carmakers took a combined EUR 6.4 billion in charges, with Renault (EUR 2.3 billion) and Volkswagen (EUR 2 billion) having lost the most.

In the financial sector, France’s Société Générale pulled out of Russia in April 2022, selling Rosbank and its insurance activities for EUR 3.1 billion. Less nimble European banks are now forced to declare huge expenses: Raiffeisen, EUR 1 billion; UniCredit, EUR 1.3 billion; and Intesa Sanpaolo, EUR 1.4 billion.

More than 50 percent of the nearly 1,900 European companies that were doing business in Russia before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine still operate there, including UniCredit, Raiffeisen, Nestlé, and Unilever, according to the Kyiv School of Economics, a Ukrainian think-tank.