The Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, has requested this Tuesday in the Congress of Deputies that Spanish companies abandon their businesses in Russia. And he has focused on three specific names: the tile giant Porcelanosa, the explosives manufacturer Maxam and the national industry of manufacturers of capital goods, citing the association that brings together this sector, Sercobe.
The best known name is perhaps that of the Castellón company Porcelanosa. Specialized in the manufacture of ceramic floor and wall tiles and kitchen furniture, bathroom fittings, taps and accessories, this company has nearly a thousand points of sale. Several have opened in recent years in Russia, in locations such as the one that opened in 2019 in Barnaul (Siberia), as announced at the time.
The group has indicated this Tuesday in a statement that since the invasion began “it has made the decision to paralyze any economic activity in Russia where there is no distribution network of its own, as is the case in Spain, the US, Italy or France, among others. The only commercial action that has taken place in Russia responds to the minimum of the contracts established with multi-brand distributors before the war. The Russian market during the month of March represented only 0.009% of the company’s sales, which in this country and during that year, computed at 197,000 euros.
“Committed to the protection of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence”, Porcelanosa participates “actively in sending medical supplies, food and clothing to help the people of Ukraine in solidarity and conviction. We are also giving humanitarian support to a group of 7 people from this country, who came to our central facilities before the invasion and whose stay in the province of Castellón is supported and protected by the company”.
“We strongly condemn the military invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army and the violence against civil society, the latest episode of which in Bucha has left us deeply shocked by the brutality suffered by the population of the area.” “The priority has always been to ensure the integrity and prosperity of all members and agents that are part of this company and that is what we have defended in Ukraine and Spain.”
After Zelenski’s intervention, the company’s managers have said at a press conference that they intend to meet this Wednesday with the Ukrainian ambassador to Spain to refute his statements, although the president and co-founder of Porcelanosa, Héctor Colonques, has defended the Ukrainian leader : “In this situation nothing can be blamed on him.”
“Really, what Zelenski is asking for is being fulfilled a little bit,” José María Segarra, director of the Vila-real tile company, told Europa Press, explaining that the company sells its products in Russia to distributors, who are the ones who they market them later, and that it stopped working with this country when this country was partially excluded from the Swift international payment system and, furthermore, there was no transport.
“Another thing is that some distributors are promoting Porcelanosa products that we sold months before the conflict, but we can’t do anything there,” he added.
Maxam, which this Tuesday has declined to specify its presence in Russia and urged to send a written questionnaire, is a Spanish mining, civil works, defense and sports ammunition company with a presence in more than 100 countries and with 140 subsidiaries in some 50 markets. , with more than 6,000 employees and 80 industrial facilities. It invoices more than 1,000 million euros per year.
The parent company had assets in Russia valued at 10.5 million euros in March 2020 and four subsidiaries in that country, according to its latest accounts available in Insight View. The group, which opened its first subsidiary in the country in 2002, cited in those accounts as one of the “milestones” for the year the “expansion of activity in mining operations through the signing and/or extension of more than 17 new contracts at a global level”, among them, the operations with the Russian mining company Severstal.
In 2015, it claimed to have “production facilities in Samara, Kovdor, Kostomuksha, Chapeevsk, Achinks, Eruda and Kiyashaltyr (these last three in Siberia)”. “MAXAM Russia has more than 250 employees and provides blasting services and products (civil explosives and initiation systems) to mining companies (such as Polyus Gold, Rusal, Sverstal or Eurochem) and quarries throughout the country,” he explained at the time.
“For fiscal year 2021, it is expected that the adjustments made in the corporation at the end of this year will be visible and allow better results. Europe and Russia are expected to continue with the same positive results of previous years”, indicates the company in its latest accounts deposited in the Mercantile Registry.
Head of a group founded by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, a century and a half ago, until 2006 Maxam was called the Spanish Union of Explosives (UEE) and in 2020 it became controlled by the Rhône Capital fund. Its first executive is the former president of Aena José Manuel Vargas, responsible for piloting the privatization of the airport group. In 2019, one of its subsidiaries signed to the former director of the National Intelligence Center (CNI) and former ambassador to the US Jorge Dezcallar. And that same year, too joined its subsidiary Expal Systems as director Rafael Bardají, former director of the FAES of José María Aznar who later ended up at Vox. You are still your administrator.
For its part, Sercobe is the acronym for the National Association of Capital Goods Manufacturers, which currently includes one hundred and thirty companies and industrial groups. Among them, Técnicas Reunidas, which in 2021 was awarded a 240 million dollar contract for the gas giant Gazprom, along with others such as TSK, the Cuñado group, Ingeteam or Iturri, and four sectoral associations. Sercobe represents more than four hundred companies and groups related to the design, manufacture, maintenance, assembly and recycling of capital goods and is a member of associations such as Confemetal (part of the CEOE).
In 2020, and according to its annual report, Russia was one of the 20 most important international clients of the national capital goods industry, with 1.1% of sales abroad, about 357 million euros. The association’s website, with which it has not been possible to contact, was inoperative on Tuesday afternoon. The entity has “flatly” denied to Europa Press that it is doing any type of business with Russian companies or organizations since the implementation of the sanctions of the international community. “Sercobe rigorously complies with international law, being one of the main references before the Spanish Administration in all regulatory and normative matters”, the association stressed in a statement.
exodus of companies
In the first weeks of the war in Ukraine, the trickle of companies that ceased operations in Russia was practically constant, although there are also companies that have decided to remain. Among the latter, the French multinational Danone or the Swiss Nestlé, who announced that they would not leave because they had a commitment to feeding Russian citizens.
In the Spanish case, the most relevant name, due to its weight, has been Inditex. The owner of Zara took longer than other competitors to abandon its activity in Russia and continued to operate while rivals such as H & M or Mango had already announced its exit.
He announced his departure on March 5. In total, it closed 502 stores (more than 80, from Zara) and ceased its online sales. In results, that decision takes its toll because Russia is 8.5% of the gross result (Ebit) of Inditex and there it adds more than 9,000 employees, who continue to be paid, as recognized by its former president, Pablo Isla, at the last press conference of group results. However, it minimized the financial impact, as they are stores for rent.
The Yale Leadership Institute updates the number of companies that, in one way or another, have reduced their activity in Russia since the invasion on February 24.
Since then, about 600 companies have reduced or ceased their activity in the country presided over by Vladimir Putin.