French companies face the dilemma of leaving Russia

The pressure has gone up a notch on these companies present in Russia when the Ukrainian president himself pointed the finger at them on Wednesday.

While Volodymyr Zelensky urged, this Wednesday, before the French Parliament, French companies established in Russia to stop supporting “War Machine» Russia and leaving this country, are faced with this political and economic dilemma. The Figaro draws up a balance of the choice of the main French companies present in Russia.

Companies that have decided to suspend their activities

French car manufacturer Renaultwhich has been publicly attacked by the Ukrainian president for its activities in Russia, announced on Wednesday night that it would immediately suspend the activities of its factory in Moscow and assess “possible options regarding participationin its large Russian subsidiary, AvtoVAZ.

As far as French banks are concerned, BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole have chosen to suspend their activities in Russia almost a month after the invasion of Ukraine. However, these decisions should not weigh heavily on the results of the two banks. Since the beginning of the conflict, BNP and Crédit Agricole indicated that they had little presence and exposure in the Russian and Ukrainian markets.

Many French groups have also already decided to suspend their operations in this country. This is the case for luxury giants like LVMH, Kering and Hermès, but also for Airbus, Safran and Alstom.

SEE ALSO – War in Ukraine: Renault suspends its activity in Moscow

Companies remaining in Russia

Adeo, the Leroy Merlin holding company that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked on Wednesday, among other companies, to leave Russia, responded that a closure would be considered a “premeditated bankruptcy», «paving the way for an expropriation that would strengthen Russia’s financial means“. Adeo, for his part, assured that “decided at the beginning of the conflict to suspend new investmentsin Russia, where the group claims to have 45,000 employees in about a hundred stores.

Another example of the Familiale Mulliez Association with a strong presence in Russia, Auchan, which has 231 Russian stores with a turnover of 3.2 billion euros, or more than 10% of its global business. Auchan did not want to comment after Volodymyr Zelensky’s intervention before the French Parliament.

Société Générale has not blocked its services in Russia where it has a strong presence. In fact, its subsidiary Rosbank is a heavyweight in the Russian banking market, with 12,000 employees and 2 million customers.

Finally, the BlaBlaCar carpooling platform, very present in Russia where it also operates buses, remains in the country but will stop investing there. “BlaBlaCar maintains the service on-site, but isolates its Russian business from the rest of the company and cancels all development projects related to this market“, the French company clarified in a press release, saying”(assume) your responsibility as an employer to protect the 100 employees of your subsidiary and your community.»

Stop buying Russian gas?

For his part, theFrench giant TotalEnergies decided not to conclude or renew contracts for the purchase of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022. But the group refuses to give up gas. TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné said on Wednesday that his group could not give up Russian gas, explaining that he had subscribed “25 year contracts».

At this point, for Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, president of the French energy group Engie, the possible decision to stop buying Russian gas corresponds to European governments. “If we decide to stop buying Russian gas, that immediately implies decisions by public authorities to deal with a form of shortage,” estimated on Wednesday in France Info. “And suddenly we are really convinced that this is a decision that should be made by public authorities and probably by Europe, because it is Europe that has the capacity to make such decisions and support them with the necessary measures.”he added.

SEE ALSO – War in Ukraine: “The first emergency is to become independent from Russian gas”, says Bruno Le Maire

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