AMSTERDAM – Nearly a year after pledging withdrawal, Dutch brewing giant Heineken has finally sold its Russian business for a symbolic €1, roughly 86 pence, taking a €300 million loss in the process.
The beermaker has offloaded its seven Russian breweries and 1,800 workers to Arnest, a local aerosol can manufacturer, in an effort to “exit the country in a responsible manner,” said CEO Dolf van den Brink. But he conceded, “It took much longer than we had hoped.”
Heineken now joins the stampede of Western companies rapidly divesting Russian assets since tanks first rolled into Ukraine last February. But “recent developments,” said van den Brink, including President Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Carlsberg and Danone facilities, “demonstrate the significant challenges faced by large manufacturing companies in exiting Russia.”
The brewer’s flagship Heineken lager was removed from Russia in 2022, with Amstel production now phasing out over six months per the sale terms. For €1, Arnest inherits the breweries and employees with guarantees to retain staff for three years.
Still, other brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola faced public pressure to close up shop in Russia amid a raft of economic sanctions. And some household names, like BT Group and Lacoste, continue to weather criticism for maintaining operations.
For Heineken, the near-giveaway deal closes a painful chapter in Russia, even as an “increasingly challenging environment” forces others to follow suit. Its leadership voices relief at washing their hands of a fraught business divorce complicated by a war.