Your commercial news round-up: Apple, FIFA and UEFA, Ashurst, oil, Sainsburys

updated on 03 March 2022

Reading time: four minutes

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has naturally been dominating the news this week. As the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, many organisations have been stripping back their association, partnerships and operations in Russia. This week’s commercial news round-up will outline some of the companies cutting off relations, while also touching briefly on other alternative commercial news that might be on your radar. 

  • Tech giant Apple joins Nike, Google and other brands in halting product sales in Russia, standing in solidarity with those “suffering as a result of the violence”. Other Apple services, including Apple Pay and Maps have also been limited, following an open letter tweeted by Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov to Apple, in which he said: “I’ve contacted @tim_cook, Apple’s CEO, to block the Apple Store for citizens of the Russian Federation […]”. As part of a “safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens” Apple has disabled certain Apple Maps features in Ukraine, including traffic and live incidents. Meanwhile, Nike has also stopped sales, with customers in Russia no longer able to place online orders. The company sent out an automated message explaining that the decision was made because it was unable to guarantee delivery of goods to customers in Russia.
  • In addition, Russia’s national and club teams have been suspended from all future FIFA and UEFA competitions “until further notice”, according to Sky Sports. The country will miss out on playing Poland in a World Cup play-off semi-final later this month and will not take part in the Women’s European Championships this summer. Meanwhile, Spartak and Moscow have been removed from the Europa League. The partnership between UEFA and Gazprom, which is said to be worth around £33.4 million each season, has also been terminated. Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the international sporting community for its actions, while a joint FIFA and UEFA statement said, among other things: “Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine”.
  • A number of law firms have taken action in response to the war in Ukraine, with international law firm Ashurst LLP recently announcing that it will no longer take on new clients that are linked to the Russian state, while terminating any work on existing matters relating to Russian clients.
  • Oil prices have risen this week, with the cost of Brent Crude jumping 8.1% to $106.01 per barrel, and WIT Crude rising 8.85% to $104,19. On top of the Western sanctions imposed on Russian financial institutions, BP, Shell and Equnior announced their plans to exit Russia, putting additional pressure on industry peers to do the same. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the financial and energy sanctions imposed against Russia “will keep the energy crisis stoked and oil well above $100 per barrel in the near-term”, according to Louise Dickson, senior oil market analyst from Rystad Energy. Dickson added that the price will rise further if the “conflict escalates”.
  • In other news, supermarket giant Sainsburys is set to close 200 cafes in its stores with plans to introduce 30 food halls and 30 Starbucks cafes in a bid to rival discount retailers as grocery inflation continues. The changes are likely to impact around 2,000 staff, as the supermarket chain continues to cut costs. Senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Susannah Streeter explained: “It’s sliding down the value chain, and investing heavily in reducing prices and this is the latest in a raft of recent restructuring moves by the retailer as it seeks to keep a lid on rising costs”. 
  • Earlier this week buy now pay later service Klarna reported $748 million in operating losses for 2021, as the company continues to grow. With more than 100 million active customers globally, according to Klarna’s CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski, the company has also accelerated its “global expansion with the addition of 10 new markets since the start of 2020”. It also recently revealed that a rewards programme will launch in the UK in the spring, which enables customers to earn points when they pay immediately or make a repayment on time. Members on the programme will also receive exclusive offices and early access. Klarna’s ‘Pay Now’ function is also set to be launched in nine new markets.

Check the News every Thursday for this weekly commercial news round-up.

Follow LawCareers.Net on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for regular business news updates.