Oerlikon to sell Russia business to local owners

Oerlikon had already ceased cross-border business activities with Russia on March 4. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Swiss industrial firm Oerlikon has announced that it will hand over ownership of its business in Russia to local management.

This content was published on June 2, 2022 - 09:16

In a brief statementExternal link released on Thursday, the Oerlikon Group said it had entered into an agreement with the local management team to sell all its operations in Russia. “The business will continue to operate independently under the new owners,” said the company.

On March 4, the Swiss firm ceased all international cross-border business activities with Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. It called the sale the “final step” in ceasing all business activities within Russia.

The company employs 48 people in Russia at six sites. The cost of the transaction has not been disclosed. Last year, Oerlikon's sales in the country amounted to less than CHF5 million ($5.2 million). Globally, the engineering and manufacturing group, which has its headquarters in Pfäffikon in canton Schwyz, employs more than 11,800 employees at 207 locations in 38 countries; it generated sales of CHF2.6 billion in 2021.

The announcement comes amid more scrutiny of ties between Swiss companies and Russian elites suspected of supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg is a minority shareholder of the Oerlikon Group as well as other industrial companies with headquarters in Switzerland.

Vekselberg and his investment group Renova were put on the US sanctions list back in 2018 following Russia’s invasion of Crimea. This forced him to reduce his personal stake in the Swiss industry to avoid exposing these firms to trade restrictions. On March 14, the US government issued a new round of sanctions that targeted a yacht and an aircraft belonging to Vekselberg.

The Russian businessman has maintained that he has no special ties to the KremlinExternal link and vehemently protested the 2018 sanctionsExternal link.

On May 16, another Swiss industrial group, Sulzer, had to temporarily suspend the activitiesExternal link of its two legal entities in Poland due to sanctions imposed by the Polish government on Vekselberg.

Novartis back in business

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced that it is resuming business in Ukraine after reviewing the safety situation in the country.

“After studying current safety protocols in the country, and on advice which we will regularly review, we have begun to resume business operations remotely to help the war-torn country restore some basic critical business processes," Novartis said in a press release on June 1.

The company has condemned the war and is providing humanitarian support, financial donations and medicine to people in the country.

“The safety and security of our people remains our number one objective, and we will constantly review the situation and our business operations in Ukraine," Novartis wrote.

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