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Sunak warns companies to ‘think carefully’ about Russian investments

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Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak has said British companies should “think very carefully” about investments that would back Vladimir Putin’s regime (Justin Tallis/PA) (PA Wire)

British companies should “think very carefully” before making any investment in Russia that supports Vladimir Putin’s regime, the chancellor has said.

Rishi Sunak warned that there is “no case” for new investment in Russia, as he said more action must be taken collectively to “inflict maximum economic damage”.

Major UK companies including BP, Shell and Centrica have announced plans to cut ties with Russia due to the war in Ukraine.

Sunak said: “I appreciate the commitments already made by a number of companies to divest from Russian assets, and I want to make it clear that the government supports further signs of intent.

“I urge companies to think very carefully about their investments in Russia and how they can help the Putin regime, and I am also clear that there is no case for new investments in Russia.

“We must collectively advance our mission to inflict maximum economic damage and stop further bloodshed.”

The chancellor met with business leaders last week to discuss UK investment in Russia and welcomed the consensus on the need to economically isolate Putin and his cronies, the Treasury said.

He said the government recognizes that liquidating Russian investments can be a long-term process for some companies due to market conditions and the ability to sell assets when sanctions have been imposed on the Russian economy.

The Treasury added that the government will do what it can to support companies that want to divest.

A growing list of UK companies have announced plans to stop operations or sell assets in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Among them is British Gas owner Centrica, which said earlier this month that it will drop its gas supply deals with Russian counterparts, including Gazprom.

Several other UK energy companies, including BP and Shell, have moved to sever ties with Russia due to the ongoing conflict, while British American Tobacco (BAT) has announced it will divest its Russian business.

Bristol-based cigarette maker Imperial Brands has said it is halting production at its factory in Volgograd, along with all sales and marketing activities in the country.

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