McDonald’s says it is pulling out of the Russian market for good, after that country’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine has made doing business in the country “no longer tenable.”
Like many global companies, the Chicago-based fast-food chain announced it would temporarily close all of its restaurants in Russia in February, when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion. The move from McDonald’s was said to be temporary at the time, as extricating itself from 850 locations and 62,000 employees would be painful to do over the long run, and the chain was hopeful of finding solution that would be beneficial for all parties.
But according to Monday’s announcement, the company is closing up shop in the country for good.
“The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values,” spokesperson Joseph Lapaille told CBC News in an emailed statement.
After the temporary closure was announced, McDonald’s was one of a few foreign chains to discover it didn’t have as much control over its restaurants in the country as it thought it did, as many locations owned by independent franchisors stayed open and continued to serve customers the same fare they always did.
WATCH | Why some McDonald’s in Russia are staying open, despite being told to close:
Hundreds of fast-food restaurants remain open in Russia, despite global chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC announcing plans to suspend operations in the country over the Ukraine war. These restaurants are likely owned by franchisees, making it difficult for companies to shut them down.
The company says it will seek to have a Russian buyer hire its employees and pay them until the sale closes, but the company did not identify who that potential buyer would be.
It did say that it plans to start removing golden arches and other symbols and signs with its name from the country immediately, so it’s unclear what will happen to the signage of the many McDonald’s-branded restaurants inside Russia.
The company’s locations in Ukraine are also temporarily closed, but all staff are being paid and the company says it plans to reopen there as soon as it can.
Rania Llewellyn is out after nearly three years as chief executive of Laurentian Bank of Canada, her sudden departure coming less than a month after a strategic review failed to find a buyer for the chronically underperforming Montreal-based bank.
Shortly after the strategic review ended, the bank’s operations were shaken by a major IT outage that has not been fully resolved.
Llewellyn, who was recruited to Laurentian from Bank of Nova Scotia in 2020 with much fanfare, becoming the first woman to lead a major Canadian bank, has been succeeded as CEO by Éric Provost, an 11-year veteran of Laurentian who was most recently group head of personal and commercial banking. He has also joined the board of directors.
In a further shakeup, Michael Boychuk, former audit committee chair and reportedly a key player in the strategic review, has been appointed chair of the board following the resignation of director and chair Michael Mueller, who had been on the board since 2013.
“Éric is the right executive to lead the bank at this critical point in its evolution,” Boychuk said in an Oct. 2 statement, adding that Provost’s ascension was part of the bank’s formal succession planning process.
“We have experienced challenges recently and the board is confident that Éric will successfully focus the organization on our customer experience and operational effectiveness.”
Meny Grauman, a bank analyst at Scotia Capital Inc., said Llewellyn’s sudden departure Oct. 2 was a negative development for the bank.
“Based on the text of this morning’s press release, the trigger for this morning’s leadership changes appears to be more tied to the bank’s ongoing systems issues, but it is hard to believe that the outcome of the recent strategic review was not a factor as well,” the analyst wrote in an Oct. 2 note to clients.
Sources said Llewellyn was not pleased with the timing of the strategic review, which was acknowledged by the bank in July, just 18 months into her plan to transform the underperforming lender with a promise of “accelerated” growth by 2024.
One industry source familiar with the review said Llewellyn felt the initial rollout of her vision had been successful and she had not had sufficient time to make necessary changes to the bank’s culture and operations.
Llewellyn could not immediately be reached for comment.
Shares in Laurentian, which had already settled back down to around $30, where they traded before the strategic process was announced, fell further following the tech problems and word of Llewellyn’s departure. The stock was trading at $28.81 at midday on Oct. 2.
Laurentian has underperformed other Canadian banks, including those in Quebec, for years. Even before the shares tumbled in September when it was revealed that the strategic review had ended without a buyer, Laurentian’s stock had risen around 165 per cent since January of 1995 compared to an 1,800 per cent rise for shares of Royal Bank of Canada shares and a more than 2,000 per cent rise for National Bank of Canada stock. National Bank’s market capitalization of $34.4 billion in July dwarfed Laurentian’s of just $1.72 billion, which had sunk further to $1.25 billion by Oct. 2.
While there is much to do, Grauman said the immediate priority for Laurentian’s new CEO will be to address the impacts of a mainframe outage that occurred last week during regular maintenance.
A three-part action plan announced by the bank will include resolving any outstanding issues from the outage, better communicating progress with the bank’s clients, and launching a comprehensive review of the factors that led to the outage.
Laurentian has already announced that all service fees charged to clients for the month of September will be reversed, and that normal hours will be extended this week.
“The bank has not quantified the financial impact of this outage, but we now expect it to be material at least for the current quarter,” Grauman wrote.
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TTC riders in Toronto’s downtown core now have access to 5G service.
In a Monday media release, representatives for Rogers said customers of all major Canadian wireless companies can connect to 5G to talk, text, and stream on Toronto’s subway system.
Service extends to all stations and tunnels in the downtown U (between Bloor-Yonge and Spadina, as well as Dupont Station), as well as in 13 stations between Keele and Castle Frank, plus the tunnels between St. George and Yonge stations.
The announcement comes a day earlier than anticipated, as the federal deadline given to Rogers to implement the extended service for all mobile customers was originally slated for Tuesday.
Rogers customers have had 5G connection in the aforementioned stations and tunnels since August, a decision that sparked ire in the telecommunications space, particularly from rivals Telus and Bell.
“Our dedicated team of technologists designed and introduced an immediate solution that added capacity, so Bell and Telus could join the network,” Ron McKenzie, chief technology and information officer for Rogers, said.
“For over 10 years, subway riders have been without mobile phone services and the Rogers team is pleased to step up and make 5G a reality for all riders today.”
In a statement shared with CP24, representatives for Telus said, “we are pleased to launch service for all our customers in connected TTC subway tunnels and stations. Now, TELUS customers can browse the Internet, talk and text, staying connected and safe on Toronto transit. We’ll be working hard to expand the number of stations and tunnels covered in the coming months.”
“We would like to thank Minister Champagne for his leadership in ensuring that all wireless carriers have the ability to serve their customers in Toronto’s subway system, and that Rogers can no longer delay the deployment of wireless service for all TTC riders regardless of their choice of carrier,” representatives for Bell shared in an afternoon statement.
“Bell looks forward to working collaboratively with our partners to build out the remainder of the TTC’s wireless network.”
Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow responded to today’s news in a tweet.
“Happy to hear that all 3 major telecoms have unrolled service to downtown stations,” she wrote.
“The work continues to expand service to the rest of the TTC subway system. François-Philippe Champagne and I will work to make sure it happens quickly.”
CP24 and CTV News Toronto are owned by Bell Media.