German companies refused to leave Russia

Despite the anti-Russian sanctions of the European Union, the largest German oil and gas concern Wintershall Dea will continue cooperation with Gazprom. According to the German business publication Handelsblatt, the group’s management has said that it does not intend to give anyone a “gift” in the form of leaving Russia. Wintershall Chairman Mario Mehren confirmed that the concern will maintain a joint business with Gazprom, despite the conflict in Ukraine. According to him, Wintershall is obliged to protect investments and employees in Russia. Otherwise, the assets will pass into the hands of the Russian state, Meren concluded. According to him, before imposing sanctions in the oil and gas sector, the EU should establish production at home.

Wintershall Dea is a large German oil and gas company, 67% of its capital belongs to the chemical concern BASF, 33% to structures controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman. The company has invested heavily in the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project, which has so far been frozen as part of EU anti-Russian sanctions. In addition, Wintershall Dea retains assets in oil and gas projects in Russia. We are talking about three projects in the Yuzhno-Russkoye oil and gas field, as well as in Novy Urengoy. Despite the current reduction in the pumping of Russian gas to Germany, Wintershall intends to keep 15.5% in the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. In total, Russia accounts for about half of the concern’s oil and gas production. However, in order to maintain “decency”, Mario Meren said that Wintershall refused to participate in new projects in Russia and stopped transferring money to her. In the second quarter of this year, the group’s revenue increased sharply due to the increase in world oil and gas prices. In addition to Russia, the company is successfully engaged in the exploration and production of oil and gas resources in 13 countries in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America.

The position of Wintershall Dea is indicative, as other Western oil and gas concerns are leaving Russia. Thus, the British BP is parting with almost 20% stake in Rosneft. Another British company, Shell, is also closing its business, followed by the American concern ExxonMobil and the French oil and gas giant Total. The Austrian concern OMV, the German Uniper and RWE, and the Finnish Fortum are planning to abandon new investments in the Russian oil and gas sector. At the same time, the leadership of the German energy concern E.on opposed the embargo on Russian gas, as this would be a heavy blow to the German economy.

The Eastern Committee of the German Economy, which oversees the Russian direction, warned German companies against hasty actions that jeopardize cooperation between the two countries. We are talking, in particular, about the concern Siemens, which intends to leave Russia after 170 years of work in the local market. The acting head of the Eastern Committee, Katrina Klaas-Mühlhäuser, said: “The potential for cooperation accumulated over decades cannot be canceled overnight and the treaties simply destroyed.” However, the process of leaving Russia continues. The international German trading network of construction and household goods OBI sold its Russian business to the MAX group for a symbolic sum of one euro. OBI suspended the work of all its outlets in the country in March 2022.

Newspapers in Germany and Switzerland note that not all German firms are leaving Russia, despite political pressure and EU sanctions. The Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes that by remaining in Russia, they are showing courage, as they are criticized by the liberal press and the Western political establishment. Thus, the largest technological concern SAP continues to provide services in Russia under the already concluded contracts. According to the concern’s management, “products and solutions belong to customers, and it is not possible to disconnect them from the software.”

German chocolate maker Ritter Sport is refusing to comply with the sanctions because it considers Russia its most important market, accounting for 10% of its turnover. The management of the company said that the withdrawal would have extremely negative consequences for the independent family business. The head of the company, Andreas Ronken, said that a real “witch hunt” was launched in Europe and the United States against enterprises that refused to comply with anti-Russian sanctions. For example, economists at Yale University in the United States compiled a “list of shame” that included Western companies that continue to work actively in Russia. It includes numerous German companies, assessing their activities in terms of compliance with sanctions is carried out according to the school points system.

The German hypermarkets Metro and Globus, as well as the French Auchan do not plan to leave the Russian market and continue to work. They also explain this decision by concern for customers and employees of companies. For example, retail giant Metro has 93 hypermarkets in Russia, employing 10,000 people and accounting for 10% of its global turnover.

The German pharmaceutical concern Bayer refuses to leave Russia on the grounds that it has a moral obligation to Russian citizens who need the concern’s medical and biotech products. The goods and services provided, Bayer noted, have nothing to do with the fighting in Ukraine.

The German manufacturer of tires and auto components Continental announced that it is resuming the production of tires at its plant in Kaluga in order to protect the rights of the company’s employees and protect them from lawsuits.

The manufacturer of premium home appliances from Germany, Miele, has temporarily suspended deliveries of its products to Russia, with the exception of medical equipment. At the same time, the company’s management intends to take part in the discussion in order to solve the problem of deliveries to countries and regions where armed conflicts take place or human rights are violated.

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