Heineken Just Sold Its Business in Russia—for $1

Back in March 2022, Heineken said that it would leave Russia after that country started its war with Ukraine. It took almost 18 months, but the beer company has finally sold its Russian business—for a total sum of just $1.

Heineken has completed a deal with Arnest Group, a Russian packaging and cosmetics company, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The brand’s seven breweries and 1,800 employees will transfer over to Arnest, and that company has agreed to keep Heineken’s staff for at least the next three years.

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“Recent developments demonstrate the significant challenges faced by large manufacturing companies in exiting Russia,” Heineken CEO Dolf van den Brink told the WSJ.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his conflict with Ukraine, many Western businesses have pulled out of the country. But recently, Russia has made it harder for companies to do so, allowing the state to take temporary control of assets from those it deems “unfriendly” to Moscow, according to The Wall Street Journal. Last month, for example, Russia took over the local businesses of the French food company Danone and the Danish brewer Carlsberg.

Heineken was able to avoid that fate by selling its business to Arnest. The latter company similarly bought the Russian arm of the American-based Ball for $530 million in September. While this more recent deal is nowhere close to that amount, Arnest will pay 100 million euros ($108 million) owed by Heineken’s Russian business to the parent company.

The sale finalizes Heineken’s exit from the Russian market, but the brewer actually stopped selling the Heineken brand in Russia last year. It told the WSJ that the Amstel brand will be phased out within six months. To get approval for the deal with Arnest, however, it had to agree to license the Austrian beers Gösser and Edelweiss and the Czech beer Krusovice. While those will continue to be available in Russia, the brand names can only be used in Cyrillic and the license will expire in three years.

It’s a good thing, then, that Russians stereotypically prefer vodka to beer, since they’ll now be down a few options when cracking open a cold one.

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