After fierce complaints about the delay in the sale of its Russian business (inside.beer, 6.3.2023) , Heineken has now announced that it has found a buyer. However, the Dutch brewery does not want to provide any information on the identity of the buyer until the regulators in the Russian Federation have approved the sale.
“If and when we have approval, we will share further details about the buyer and agreement,” Heineken said in a trading update on Wednesday. “We continue to make progress to transfer the ownership of our business in Russia and an application has been submitted for approval to the authorities in the Russian Federation in line with local regulatory requirements,” the brewer added.
Shortly after Russia started invading Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Heineken together with many other Western companies announced to stop investments and to “continue with the recently reduced operations” in Russia. (inside.beer, 10.03.2022)
Only one month later, Heineken said “that Heineken’s ownership of the business in Russia is no longer sustainable nor viable in the current environment” and it “will not profit from any transfer of ownership.” (inside.beer, 28.3.2022)
In the meantime, however, a year has passed without the outside observer seeing any progress in the sale. Heineken is still operating in Russia, including by selling its non-Heineken international brands such as Amstel, and by launching new products.
The current announcement seems to be an indication that Heineken now wants to follow up on its announcements with action.
Heineken's assets in Russia were valued at EUR 255 million at the end of last year, although the company cited an impairment loss, or reduction in market value, of EUR 88 million in its accounts.
Heineken is by no means the only brewing group to operate in Russia longer than previously announced.
Carlsberg which also announced its intention to exit Russia last March, has also postponed the sale because the “reverse integration”, the process of disentangling the Russian operations from the rest of Carlsberg, had proved more complex than previously assumed. Carlsberg boss Cees ‘t Hart alsowants to include a buyback clause “if, if, if Russia is a different country in 10 or 20 years.” (inside.beer, 7.2.2023)
Only Anadolu Efes, the Turkish brewing group that runs a joint venture with AB InBev in Russia, has not shown solidarity with the sanctions from the West and wants to continue its business in Russia. Last year, the Turks announced to buy AB InBev's Russian business, despite US warnings of possible sanctions if Turkey’s largest business group continues to do business with Russia. (inside.beer, 27.8.2022)
Heineken Breweries LLC is the Russian division of the Heineken N.V. The company has been operating on the Russian market since February 2002 when it acquired its first brewery in Saint Petersburg. Today it operates 7 breweries and 2 malting plants across 8 time zones and is the third largest brewer in the country.