- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2022

McDonald’s said Monday it will sell off its restaurants in Russia because of the nation’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting turmoil, a major exit for a company that became a symbol of western capitalism after the fall of communism in Moscow.

The fast-food chain announced in March that it would temporarily shut down operations because of the invasion, a step taken by many other U.S. corporations.

However, McDonald’s concluded it must sever ties completely.

“This is a complicated issue that’s without precedent and with profound consequences,” Chris Kempczinski, the chief executive of McDonald’s, said in a memo obtained by The New York Times. “Some might argue that providing access to food and continuing to employ tens of thousands of ordinary citizens is surely the right thing to do. But it is impossible to ignore the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. And it is impossible to imagine the Golden Arches representing the same hope and promise that led us to enter the Russian market 32 years ago.”

McDonald’s will sell 850 restaurants that employ 62,000 people to local buyers and remove the arches logo from the sites.

The company said it will try to preserve workers’ jobs under the new owners.

The Times reports that McDonald’s will record a write-off of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion from the sale, concluding an era that began with a franchise in Moscow in 1990.

“In the history of McDonald’s, it was one of our proudest and most exciting milestones,” Mr. Kempczinski wrote. “After nearly half a century of Cold War animosity, the image of the Golden Arches shining above Pushkin Square heralded for many, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, the beginning of a new era.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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