McDonald’s has started the process of selling its Russian business, which includes 850 restaurants that employ 62,000 people, making it the latest major Western corporation to exit Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.
The fast food giant pointed to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, saying holding on to its business in Russia “is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values”.
The Chicago-based company announced in early March that it was temporarily closing its stores in Russia but would continue to pay employees.
On Monday, it said it would seek to have a Russian buyer hire those workers and pay them until the sale closes.
It did not identify a prospective buyer.
CEO 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,” Mr Kempczinski said in a statement, “and our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining there”.
As it tries to sell its restaurants, McDonald’s said it plans to start removing golden arches and other symbols and signs with the company’s name.
It said it will keep its trademarks in Russia.
The first McDonald’s in Russia opened in the middle of Moscow more than three decades ago, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It was a powerful symbol of the easing of Cold War tensions between the United States and Soviet Union.
McDonald’s said it expects to record a charge against earnings of between $US1.2 billion ($1.7 billion) and $US1.4 ($2.0 billion) billion over leaving Russia.
Its restaurants in Ukraine are closed, but the company said it is continuing to pay full salaries for its employees there.
McDonald’s said exiting Russia will not change its forecast of adding a net 1,300 restaurants this year, which will contribute about 1.5 per cent to company wide sales growth.
Last month, McDonald’s reported that it earned $US1.1 billion ($1.6 billion) in the first quarter, down from more than $1.5 billion ($2.2 billion) a year earlier. Revenue was nearly $US5.7 billion ($8.2 billion).