McDonald’s era in Russia coming to a close, restaurants sold

Published: May 19, 2022 10:07 AM EDT
Updated: May 19, 2022 10:10 AM EDT
FILE - McDonald's restaurant is seen in the center of Dmitrov, a Russian town 75 km., (47 miles) north from Moscow, Russia, on Dec. 6, 2014. McDonald’s says it's started the process of selling its Russian business, which includes 850 restaurants that employ 62,000 people. The fast food giant pointed to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, saying holding on to its business in Russia “is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values.” The Chicago-based company had temporarily closed its stores in Russia but was still paying employees. (AP Photo/FILE)

McDonald’s has begun the process of selling its restaurants in Russia after more than 30 years in the country.

The Chicago burger giant said its existing licensee Alexander Govor, who operates 25 restaurants in Siberia, has agreed to buy McDonald’s 850 Russian restaurants and operate them under a new name. McDonald’s didn’t disclose the sale price.

McDonald’s was among the first Western fast food brands to enter Russia in 1990. Its large, gleaming store near Pushkin Square in Moscow signaled a new era of optimism in the wake of the Cold War.

But McDonald’s temporarily shuttered its Russian locations in March because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a decision the company said cost it $55 million per month. On Monday, McDonald’s announced it would sell those stores and leave Russia.

The sale agreement is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close within a few weeks, McDonald’s said.

Govor, a licensee since 2015, has also agreed to retain McDonald’s 62,000 Russian employees for at least two years on equivalent terms. Govor also agreed to pay the salaries of McDonald’s corporate employees until the sale closes.

McDonald’s left open the possibility that it could one day return to Russia.

“It’s impossible to predict what the future may hold, but I choose to end my message with the same spirit that brought McDonald’s to Russia in the first place: hope,” CEO Chris Kempczinski wrote Monday in a letter to employees. “Thus, let us not end by saying, ‘goodbye.’ Instead, let us say as they do in Russian: Until we meet again.”

McDonald’s shares were flat in morning trading Monday.