Koch Industries, Velux Group to Close Glass Plants in Russia

Koch Industries, the parent company of Guardian Glass, has called for its employees to shut down its two Russian glass plants, saying continued operations are “untenable” in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company had previously announced it would remain open, citing employee safety as a chief concern. (See related article in the April 2022 USGlass, page 18.)

In a statement released on April 21, 2022, Koch Industries’ president and chief operating officer Dave Robertson says Guardian Glass has 600 employees between the two plants in Russia. In March 2022, Robertson wrote that float operations would remain open lest the Russian government take control and benefit from the manufacturing facilities.

Koch and Robertson condemned the actions of the Russian government in Ukraine and suspended all new capital investments in Russia, also citing employee safety as a reason for keeping the facilities operational.

The invasion of Ukraine, however, continued to unfold. Sanctions announced in April, along with the Russian government’s response, resulted in a shift in the company’s response to the situation. Those developments, according to Robertson, have made operational conditions “untenable” for the Guardian plants in Russia to remain open.

Concerns for Guardian employees remain top-of-mind. Russian authorities had threatened criminal prosecution for employees of manufacturing facilities that ceased operations. With Koch’s latest announcement, those threats are being repeated.

“When made aware of this plan, Russian authorities repeated earlier warnings that local Guardian employees would violate Russian law and be prosecuted and imprisoned if they followed through with any shutdown activities, further reinforcing our concerns for employees’ safety,” Robertson wrote.

Guardian is working with its local management team to develop an exit strategy that mitigates both concerns – employee safety and a government takeover of the facilities.

“All other Koch companies, none with operating assets in Russia, have ended or are ending business activities there,” reads the statement. “As a company and as individuals, we have consistently condemned Russia’s action and remain united in support of all employees and others who are harmed by this terrible war.”

Koch Industries isn’t alone in the decision to end operations in Russia. Others have taken similar action, including Velux Group. After suspending all activities in Russia and Belarus following the invasion, Velux has now permanently closed those operations. All obligations to creditors and customers will be settled and employees will be dismissed. The company
will then file for voluntary liquidation in Russia and Belarus so its operations can legally be de-listed. Velux Group employs 72 people combined in sales offices in Russia and Belarus but has neither production facilities nor properties in these countries.

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