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McDonalds takes $1.4bn hit from closing its 850 Russian outlets

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Russia Ukraine war McDonald's quits Putin - REUTERS/Corbis/File Photo
Russia Ukraine war McDonald's quits Putin - REUTERS/Corbis/File Photo

McDonald’s is pulling out of Russia after more than 30 years of selling milkshakes and hamburgers in the country, taking a $1.4bn (£1.1bn) hit from the decision.

The fast-food giant is seeking to sell its operations, including 850 restaurants with 62,000 employees.

It is one of the most high profile retreats by a Western firm since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. McDonald's temporarily halted its business in Russia in March but today said it will permanently leave.

The company opened its first restaurant in Moscow in 1990, attracting queues of an estimated 30,000 people in Pushkin Square in what came to be seen as a defining moment for the triumph of capitalism after the Cold War.

It said that holding onto its business in Russia was “no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values” despite predicting an up to $1.4bn (£1.1bn) financial blow from pulling out.

Hundreds of Russians queued to eat at McDonald's when it first opened at the end of the Cold War - AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Hundreds of Russians queued to eat at McDonald's when it first opened at the end of the Cold War - AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

It plans to offload its entire portfolio of restaurants to a local buyer and remove the McDonald’s golden arches, branding and menu, although it will retain its trademark.

Chief executive Chris Kempczinski said the “dedication and loyalty to McDonald’s” of employees and hundreds of Russian suppliers made it a difficult decision to leave.

“However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values,” he said in a statement, “and our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining there.”

He added: “Some might argue that providing access to food and continuing to employ tens of thousands of ordinary citizens is surely the right thing to do.

“But it is impossible to ignore the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. And it is impossible to imagine the golden arches representing the same hope and promise that led us to enter the Russian market 32 years ago.”

McDonald’s will continue to pay local staff until it finds a new owner for the business.

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