(The Hill) – At least 47 multinational companies with a presence in Russia, including gas giant BP and aircraft behemoth Boeing, are at risk of having key assets seized by the Russian government.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February spurred dozens of major international companies to pull out of the country amid sweeping sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.
A report that will be published next week from the Russian monitoring organization the Moral Rating Agency says the Kremlin may soon seize or redirect assets of those companies to a friendlier firm.
Other at risk firms include Shell, Samsung, PepsiCo, Nissan, Intel, Microsoft, Toyota and Ford. In total, the 47 companies at risk of losing assets to Russia make up 24 percent of the 200 largest corporations in the world, according to the Moral Rating Agency.
The founder of the agency, Mark Dixon, said in a statement the organizations anticipates “a tsunami of expropriations or blackmailed concessions over the next couple of months,” potentially affecting the U.S. stock market, which recently dipped into bear market territory.
“Even corporations with a mix of assets at risk and non-asset activities may suffer on both lines of business because it will be difficult for corporations to keep trading with a country that illegally expropriates its factory or assets,” Dixon said.
The report comes after Russia has already moved to seize assets from some companies.
On July 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing a new Russian firm to take complete control of the Sakhalin-2 gas and oil energy project in Russia’s east, according to Reuters. The gas project accounts for about four percent of the world’s liquefied natural gas.
Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell and Japanese corporations Mitsui and Mitsubishi together held just under a 50 percent stake in the Sakhalin Energy Investment company, the outlet noted.
Moscow is also set to pass a law that will allow the Kremlin to seize assets from other western and international corporations.
Russia has been adapting to its new reality as a corporate pariah. In May, a Russian business owner — who purchased 850 restaurant stores from McDonalds— launched a rebranded restaurant chain using its buildings.
The Moral Rating Agency, which earlier this month called out companies for not following through to pull services out of Russia, ranked the 47 corporations in its upcoming report with a threat level rate ranging from one to 10.
On the top of the list is energy giant BP, which has a nearly 20 percent stake in the Russian oil and gas company Rosneft. BP announced it would end its shareholding stake with Rosneft shortly after the Russian invasion.
Snack and drink corporation PepsiCo, which has two plants in Moscow that make up around five percent of its total revenue, is also at the top of the threat list. In March, PepsiCo announced it was suspending the sale of its beverages in Russia.
LG Electronics, which makes Android smartphones, is at a medium threat risk with one production plant in Moscow. Nestlé, known for its candy and chocolate drinks, also holds a medium risk of Russia seizing a subsidiary company that makes up about two percent of its total revenue. Nestlé suspended KitKat and Nesquik sales in Russia, while LG also halted shipments to the country.
Other major corporations — Microsoft, Boeing, Toyota, Volkswagen, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Ford —are at a low risk of the Kremlin seizing or redirecting a small share of assets the companies hold in Russia.
The Moral Rating Agency said several companies made the correct decision when they exited early and sold their assets, including McDonalds, Alphabet (which owns Google), Amazon and Honda.
In his statement, Dixon said Putin is using the threat of expropriation, or seizing assets, as part of his plan to “follow his usual pattern of dividing the enemy.”
“In this case, he will seek to drive a wedge between the corporate and public sectors,” Dixon said. “He’s aware that companies are free to act independently of their governments and will often act selfishly if they are being threatened.”
“He is probably hoping that large corporations will lobby governments not to act in ways that will lose them their assets,” he added. “Putin is trying to throw a cat among the pigeons.”