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Burger King Still in Russia Amid Exit Talks

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Burger King remains open as usual in Russia despite the brand’s owner pledging to leave more than a year ago.

Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which owns 15% of the fast-food’s franchise business in Russia, told the BBC it had “no new updates to share at this time” on its exit.

The firm said in March 2022 that it had started the process to leave Russia.

Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Western companies have been under pressure to leave Russia.

Critics accused RBI of “sustaining Putin’s regime” by failing to ditch its stake in its Russian business.

RBI, one of the world’s largest fast-food restaurant companies, has cited its complicated franchise agreement for its difficulty in trying to exit the country.

The deal is a joint venture with three other partners for some 800 restaurants.

David Shear, RBI’s president, said in March 2022 that Burger King’s main operator in Russia had “refused” to shut the outlets following the first attacks on Ukraine.

But he added that the company had “started the process” to dispose if its 15% ownership stake and that it would take “some time”.

Asked by the BBC about the progress made 18 months on from the pledge, a spokesperson for the Canadian-American company said the firm had no updates.

Steven Tian, part of a team of researchers at Yale University who track what companies have done in response to the Ukraine war, argued using franchise agreements as an “excuse” was a “convenient smokescreen”. He pointed out that the likes of Starbucks had managed to terminate its deal in the country and exit.

“Saying they [RBI] want to leave but then dragging their feet is not the same as actually exiting Russia, and by continuing to do business in Russia 18 months into Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, they are sustaining Putin’s regime,” he said.

The spokesperson for RBI said the company was refusing new investment and supply chain support, and had not made any profits from Burger King in Russia since early 2022.

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