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McDonald’s has found a buyer for its Russian business, ending decades-long relationship

McDonald's has buyer for Russian business

McDonald’s has found a local buyer for its Russian business, finalizing plans to sever a relationship that predates the fall of the Soviet Union.

Alexander Govor, who operates 25 restaurants in Siberia, will acquire the fast-food giant’s entire Russian portfolio and operate them under a new brand, the company announced Thursday. He also agreed to retain employees for at least two years and cover the salaries of corporate employees in 45 regions and all operational expenses until the deal closes.

Pending regulatory approval, the deal is expected to close in the coming weeks. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The decision winds down a significant chapter for the Chicago-based company, which opened its first store in Moscow in January 1990 — less than two years before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Tens of thousands of Russians lined up for the opening, which many remembered as a seminal moment in their lives in interviews decades later with The Washington Post.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unleashed a blistering regimen of international sanctions that have made the country a costly and troublesome place to do business. On Monday, McDonald’s announced it would sell all its stores, citing the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and its corporate values. In a March 8 filing, the company said it operated nearly 850 stores and had 62,000 employees in Russia.

McDonald’s joins more than 900 companies — including Ikea, Intel, Uber, Adidas and BP — that have made “principled exits” from the country, as described in a widely followed list from Yale University, in response to the war.

— Aaron Gregg

H&M pays $36 million in N.Y. gift card case

H&M will pay $36 million to settle accusations that the fashion retailer illegally kept millions of dollars in gift cards that customers never used, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said on Thursday.

The Swedish company, whose full name is H&M Hennes & Mauritz, will pay $28.26 million to the state and $7.74 million to a whistleblower, William French.

James said H&M has since at least 2008 unlawfully kept at least $18.4 million in unused gift card balances in its own bank accounts, instead of transferring them to the state’s Abandoned Property Fund.

She also said H&M repeatedly lied about the missing transfers by saying an Ohio company, which had no obligation to send the balances to New York, handled its gift card business.

H&M, which specializes in “fast fashion,” did not admit or deny wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. It had no comment on the settlement.

The Stockholm-based company has about 4,800 stores worldwide, and posted net sales of $20.1 billion in 2021, according to its website.

French had sued H&M in 2016, accusing it of violating New York’s False Claims Act and a law governing abandoned property. His lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Customers with unused H&M gift cards issued between 2004 and 2014 can use them at H&M, or file a claim with New York’s Office of Unclaimed Funds.

— Reuters

Harley-Davidson said on Thursday it will stop assembling and shipping motorcycles for two weeks except for its electric models due to a problem with parts from a supplier. The iconic motorbike maker said a third-party supplier that it did not identify has a regulatory compliance matter with a component. Harley-Davidson had no additional comment. So far, production at two manufacturing plants in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have been halted. The company disclosed that semiconductor shortages were affecting production lines and that it was seeking alternatives.

Ford Motor Company said Thursday it was recalling 39,000 SUVs after reports of 16 fires, and has advised owners to park their vehicles outdoors and away from structures until a fix is completed. The recall, which covers some 2021 model year Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator vehicles, was prompted as an engine compartment fire could occur while the car is parked or being driven, even with the ignition off, the No. 2 U.S. automaker said. There was one injury but no accidents related to the fires, it said, and 14 of the 16 affected vehicles were owned by rental car companies.

— From news services