By Mauro Orru 
 

Russia has appointed Chechnya's agriculture minister as the new head of Danone's business in the country, ratcheting up pressure on the French food company just days after President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that effectively placed the business under government management.

Yakub Zakriev, who is also Chechnya's deputy prime minister, replaced Charlie Victor Henricus Cappetti as head of Danone's Russian business, state news agency Tass reported late Tuesday. A Russian company database, cited by Tass, named Zakriev as head of the company.

On Tuesday, Russian media also reported that Taimuraz Bolloev would manage Baltika Breweries, the Russian business of Danish brewer Carlsberg that was also the target of Putin's decree. A Baltika Breweries spokesman confirmed Bolloev's appointment to The Wall Street Journal.

Danone and Carlsberg didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Putin signed a decree on Sunday to take control of Danone and Carlsberg's assets in the country, effectively handing stakes in their Russian businesses to the Federal Agency for State Property Management, a government body. The move is one of the most drastic responses to the flight of Western companies from Russia in the wake of the country's invasion of Ukraine. In April, Russia took control of utilities owned by Germany's Uniper and Finland's Fortum.

The latest seizures follow a decree signed in April that Putin called a response to the unfriendly actions of governments that have imposed a barrage of sanctions on Moscow. Last summer, Russia took control of the international consortium behind the giant Sakhalin-2 oil-and-natural-gas project in Russia's Far East that counted the likes of Shell and Mitsubishi among its shareholders. The Kremlin has long threatened to nationalize the assets of companies that leave Russia. However, some businesses have kept some operations in the country

Danone said Sunday that it was investigating the situation and preparing to take all necessary steps to protect its rights as shareholder of Danone Russia. Last year, the group launched a process to transfer control of its essential dairy and planted-based business in the country.

Carlsberg on Sunday called the decision to transfer Baltika Breweries under temporary management unexpected, saying the group would assess the legal and operational consequences and take all necessary actions in response. Last month, Carlsberg agreed to sell its Russian business without disclosing details, but prospects for the sale process are now highly uncertain, it said.

 

Write to Mauro Orru at mauro.orru@wsj.com; @MauroOrru94

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 19, 2023 03:44 ET (07:44 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2023 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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