Nissan exits Russia selling assets for 1 dollar

More than seven months into the Ukraine War, foreign companies are still filing out of Russia.

Over 1,000 companies have made the decision to close down operations in Russia and leave the country after the widely-condemned invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. 

Months later, the exodus still isn’t over. On Tuesday, Japanese carmaker Nissan became the latest to exit the country, announcing a sale of all its remaining Russian assets for a largely ceremonial fee.

“On behalf of Nissan, I thank our Russian colleagues for their contribution to the business over many years. While we cannot continue operating in the market, we have found the best possible solution to support our people,” Nissan President and CEO Makoto Uchida said in a statement.

Nissan will sell off its Russian assets to state-owned Central Research and Development Automobile and Engine Institute, also known as NAMI, for a token one euro ($0.97) fee, according to Reuters.

The exit from the country is an expensive one, as Nissan is losing approximately 100 billion Japanese yen in value, according to the company’s statement, or around $686 million. But the company will still have a chance to recoup their losses, with a clause permitting the automaker to buy back its assets within the next six years.

Nissan did not immediately reply to Fortune’s request for comment.

Closing down 

In exiting Russia, Nissan is leaving behind some valuable assets, including a manufacturing facility in St. Petersburg and a sales center in Moscow. But despite their value, these properties have likely been a burden to the Japanese carmaker for months.

Last March, Nissan temporarily halted production at its Russia plant due to difficulties obtaining parts from outside the country. Nissan in total employed over 2,000 employees in Russia, and in 2021 the St. Petersburg manufacturing facility produced 45,040 vehicles, Automotive News Europe reported at the time. 

The pause was supposed to last only three weeks, but was extended in early April as the company continued to run into logistical difficulties. The plant has remained idle since then, with the pause having been extended one last time in September before the sale to NAMI was finalized.

In a statement, Nissan said the NAMI would take care of “future passenger vehicle projects.” The company also announced that all of its staff remaining in Russia would continue to receive employee protection benefits for the next 12 months.

Mass exodus

While operations in the country have been on pause since March, Nissan’s official Russia exit comes months after other car companies decided to leave the company.

French carmaker Renault signed an agreement with Russian authorities to sell its assets in the country to NAMI back in May, also with an option to buy back its stake within the next six years. Renault did not disclose how much it sold its Russian assets for, although the New York Times reported the fee to be as low as one Russian ruble.

Some carmakers, like Nissan, kept production on hold for months but eventually decided to close down operations due to ongoing difficulties in obtaining parts. Japanese company Toyota also suspended production in Russia back in March, but announced to be terminating operations in the country only last month.

Many companies acted quickly by leaving the country within a month or two of the invasion, including German sportswear company Adidas and food manufacturer Oetker.

But some took longer to account for the futures of large workforces still in Russia. Fast food chain McDonald’s closed down its over 800 restaurants in Russia in March after receiving criticism online and from investors for not exiting the country sooner. The company eventually left Russia in May when it sold off all its assets to a Russian buyer, a decision McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski later told Fortune had been delicate considering the future of the company’s 62,000 Russian employees.

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