By Bloomberg News
Russia seized control of the local subsidiaries of France’s Danone SA and Denmark’s Carlsberg A/S under a decree aimed at companies from “unfriendly” countries.
Shares of Carlsberg’s Baltika Brewing Co. and Danone Russia JSC will be transferred to Russia’s Federal Property Management Agency for “temporary management,” according to the decree by President Vladimir Putin.
The yoghurt maker and the brewer had been trying to leave Russia. The seizures are a warning to others like regional Coke bottler Coca-Cola HBC, which derives 12 per cent of its revenue in Russia and is among the most exposed according to Morgan Stanley.
Danone shares fell by 0.8 per cent and Carlsberg slid by 1.8 per cent on Monday. Writedowns were already largely priced in after Russia restricted whom they could sell to, the contributions they would have to make to state coffers and prohibited taking money out of the country.
The decision won’t affect Danone’s financial guidance and the company is taking steps to safeguard its shareholder rights in Russia, the Paris-based food company said. Earlier this month, the company said it would rebrand Activia in Russia to AktiBio. Carlsberg called the decision “unexpected” and indicated it’s assessing legal and operational consequences as well as any financial impact.
Putin signed a decree in April allowing for temporary state control over the assets of companies or individuals from unfriendly states – which include the US and its allies – in response to similar moves, or the threat of them, by those countries.
Sunday’s move is the second time the Kremlin has used the decree to seize assets. Previously, Russia took control of utilities owned by Finland’s Fortum Oyj and Germany’s Uniper SE.
Companies including Nestle SA and Mondelez, which have factories and thousands of operations in Russia, have performed a balancing act of keeping production going and the Russian government satisfied while mollifying Western stakeholders by saying that they were only selling essential products. Sharply reducing local operations or headcount could also attract Kremlin retaliation.
Danone, which makes yoghurt and baby food, planned to sell most of its business in Russia but intended to keep 25 per cent of shares and stay on the board of directors. It expected the sale could result in a write-off of as much as €1 billion ($1.6 billion).
Carlsberg in June found a buyer for Baltika, the Russian unit said at the time. “Following the presidential decree, the prospects for this sales process are now highly uncertain,” the brewer said in a statement.
“Carlsberg may need to do a full writedown to zero in connection with upcoming results,” Mads Lindegaard Rosendal, a credit analyst at Danske Bank A/S, said in a note.
“That said, we do not see this as a large blow to the credit case as investors have likely already discounted the Russian activities.”
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Source: Thanks smh.com