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March 18, 2022, 5:39 p.m. EDT

Yale professor is keeping tabs on companies still operating in Russia despite Ukraine invasion — and many have now pulled out

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By Ciara Linnane

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Russia, along with Ukraine, accounted for about 3% of Hugo Boss’s total sales last year.

The Hilton hotel chain /zigman2/quotes/202780307/composite HLT -0.56% said it’s closing its corporate office in Moscow and suspending new hotel development in Russia. Russian workers will continue to be paid, the company said.

Hilton’s 26 hotels in Russia remain open. They are owned and operated by franchisees, but Hilton said it is donating any profits from those hotels to relief efforts in Ukraine. Hilton said it has also donated up to 1 million room nights to support Ukrainian refugees.

Wall Street titan Citigroup Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207741460/composite C +0.78% also said it would wind down its Russian banking business and will be “operating the business on a more limited basis” until a sale happens.

And Arconic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/216391721/composite ARNC +3.22% said it would pause new contracts in Russia. The company has a facility in Samara, Russia that produces sheets, plates, extrusions and forgings.

On Friday, spice maker McCormick & Co. /zigman2/quotes/206739653/composite MKC +0.05% said it would suspend its Russia operations.

And Mars, the privately held confectionery company, s aid i t will scale back its business and “refocus our efforts in Russia on our essential role in feeding the Russian people and pets. Any profits from our Russian business will be used for humanitarian causes. We have suspended new investments in Russia and will not import or export our products in or out of Russia. Our social media and advertising activity in Russia and Belarus will remain suspended.”

For the full list of companies: Visit the Yale School of Management website

Sonnenfeld acknowledged Thursday that his effort has met with some success.

When the list was first published on Wednesday, March 2, only several dozen companies had announced their departure, he said.

“Hundreds of companies have withdrawn in a mass corporate exodus from Russia in the eight days since, and we are humbled that our list helped catalyze millions around the world to raise awareness and take action,” he said.

Companies have a reputational incentive to withdraw, despite any loss of investment or business, Sonnenfeld wrote in Fortune on Monday.

“Companies that fail to withdraw face a wave of U.S. public resentment far greater than what they face on climate change, voting rights, gun safety, immigration reform, or border security,” he wrote.

He cited a Morning Consult survey that found more than 75% of Americans want companies to cut their business ties with Russia and are united on the subject across political lines in a way that has become quite rare.

See also: Facebook, Google, Amazon and more marked Black History Month with fanfare — after donating to lawmakers who blocked voting-rights bills

Sonnenfeld also argued that those who fear that such corporate moves and government-imposed sanctions will punish ordinary Russians are missing the point that they would impose pain, but not the violence of war, which would be far more painful.

“Vladimir Putin, the most vicious autocrat of this century, rules through tyranny and fear. As he continues to fail, people will lose their fear and he will lose his power,” Sonnenfeld wrote.

He said in an MSNBC interview early Wednesday that the goal is “to create some hardship on the Russian economy” and to shatter Putin’s self-image as “in control of all sectors.”

Sonnenfeld said that one might normally expect that consumer-facing companies would be the first to express distaste for Putin’s actions — those sorts of companies have been most active in speaking out against U.S. states’ new limitations on voting rights and in favor of gun-safety legislation, the Yale professor observed — but heavier-industry companies have of late been on the front foot.

Ask the Dow (April 2021): Here’s what the 30 Dow industrials companies are saying about new voting restrictions

One factor for consumer-oriented brands is gauging how they’ll successfully re-enter the Russian market when the time comes, Sonnenfeld told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, assuming the Russian consumer base continues to have “its news filtered by Pravda, you know, and TASS.”

See: Russia intensifies crackdown on independent media

Also: After years of living in Moscow, I have bad news: No one should expect the Russian people to suddenly rise up against Putin now

The list of companies that have withdrawn from Russia or curtailed their business there is longer, at more than 200, and includes big hitters Alphabet Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL -0.61% /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -0.55% , American Express Co. /zigman2/quotes/203805826/composite AXP +0.41% , Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -0.14% , Cisco Systems Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209509471/composite CSCO -0.82% , Walt Disney Co. /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS -1.38% , IBM Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203856914/composite IBM +0.64% and Netflix Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -1.36% .

MarketWatch has contacted all companies named in this story for comment.

The Yale list is being updated daily.

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