WPP has announced that it is closing its Russia operations due to the country's invasion of Ukraine, a move that will affect its near-1,400 staff.
WPP chief executive Mark Read has written to everyone at the group, explaining his and the board's rationale for the decision, saying he "deeply" regretted the impact the closure would have on the Russian workforce.
The world's biggest ad group said that it was standing by Ukraine, "condemning the Russia invasion, which has created a humanitarian crisis in the heart of Europe".
The board concluded its ongoing presence in Russia would be "inconsistent with our values as a company" and is "discontinuing our operations".
The advertising group thanked the "nearly 1400" people in Russia who have proven "dedicated and valued members" for the agency and its clients.
Read's email continued: "We will work with our people, clients and partners to consider all options including transfer of ownership and divestment, and we will provide additional and enhanced financial support to anyone who loses their employment as a result of this decision. Local agency leaders are discussing next steps with their teams directly."
Meanwhile, WPP commended the 200 people it employs in Ukraine, who it said had displayed extraordinary resilience and bravery in the face of the horrific attack on their country".
The company said it was in regular contact with its leaders in the country "to provide financial and other forms of practical assistance for our employees".
WPP had already partnered with UN Refugee Agency UNHCR to run an emergency fundraiser appeal to help people who have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine and neighbour territories.
Read wrote in his email: "I would like to thank the thousands of you who have already donated to the UNHCR appeal set up by Blue State to help people forced to flee the fighting in Ukraine. The appeal remains open and we will continue to match all your donations."
Russia generated 0.6% of WPP's revenue less pass-through costs – about £60m – in 2021.
WPP’s share price has fallen by almost a fifth to £9.25 since 24 February when Russia invaded Ukraine – on the same day as the company reported annual results – amid fears of global economic repercussions from the war.