Russia: Chechnya agriculture minister to run seized Danone unit

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Moscow has appointed a Chechen minister as the new head of yoghurt maker Danone’s Russian subsidiary.

Yakub Zakriev, deputy prime minister and agriculture minister of Chechnya, has been installed after Russia seized control of the French firm’s business.

Mr Zakriev is reportedly the nephew of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov – a key ally of Vladimir Putin.

On Sunday, the Russian units of Danone and beer giant Carlsberg were put under “temporary management” of the state.

President Putin introduced new rules allowing Moscow to seize the assets of companies from “unfriendly” countries.

Many major Western companies halted their operations in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Before they were put under state control, Danone and Carlsberg were in the process of selling their Russian businesses.

Carlsberg said it was “unclear” what implications the development would have on the ongoing operations of its Russian operation, Baltika Breweries, as well as the sale process.

It was estimated that the sale of the business would result in a €1bn (£861.7m) hit for the French company.

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Meanwhile, Taimuraz Bolloev was named as director of the Carlsberg’s Russian business, Baltika Breweries.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment.

On Sunday, an order signed by Mr Putin placed the shares of Danone Russia and Carlsberg’s Baltika Breweries under the control of Russian property agency Rosimushchestvo.

Danone, which started the process to sell its Russian business last October, said at the time that it was “investigating the situation”.

Carlsberg said it had signed an agreement to sell Baltika Breweries last month but had not yet completed the deal.

“With the signing of the presidential decree on 16 July 2023, Carlsberg Group no longer retains control of the management or operations of Baltika Breweries. The change to the management of Baltika Breweries has consequently been made without the knowledge or approval by Carlsberg Group”, said Carlsberg.

Baltika produces some of the most recognisable beer brands in Russia, with 8,400 employees across eight plants, according to Carlsberg’s website.

Danone did not immediately respond to BBC requests for comment.

Related Topics

  • Companies
  • Russia-Ukraine war
  • Russia
  • Beer

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