Blog: Unilever feels force of Egypt troubles

Michelle Russell | 31 January 2011

Consumer products giant Unilever has become the latest firm to suspend some of its operations in Egypt as widespread political protests against the country's president, Hosni Mubarak, enter their seventh day today (31 January).

Unilever told just-food today that it had closed "some of its offices" in the country, although the company declined to give further information on whether the troubles had affected its production operations.

While a number of major companies have curtailed operations in the country, on a macro level, analysts warned that Egypt's economic growth has already been damaged by the protests.

Moody's cut its rating on Egypt by one notch, warning that Egypt's public finances could suffer if authorities respond to the crisis by raising wages or increasing subsidies on food and fuel, the Guardian wrote today.

Sister site just-drinks reported this morning that Heineken has suspended beer and soft drinks operations in Egypt and flown ex-patriot employees out of the country. Snacks giant PepsiCo confirmed today that it was also doing the same with its own employees.

"PepsiCo's first priority is the safety of our employees and their families," the firm said in a statement. "We are continually evaluating our operations and making adjustments based on local conditions with employee safety in mind. Employees who are not residents of Egypt but who happen to be there at this time are being assisted by the company to return to their home countries as soon as feasible."

Other known companies to be affected by the protests include chemicals company Akzo Nobel, Japanese auto company Nissan Motor and US-based General Motors.

According to the BBC today, there is US$25bn of foreign investment in Egypt, around half of which is made up of shares in companies based in the country. If protests continue, economics could play a significant role in forcing a settlement.


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