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Lenovo, Acer, Asus Get F Grade For Still Operating In Russia: Yale Report

Three of the world’s largest PC makers share an F grade with 58 multinational companies still doing business in Russia – in contrast with more than 600 multi-national companies that have withdrawn business over the ongoing war in Ukraine.

[Correction: CRN has updated this article in the wake of new information from the Yale School of Management. The Yale report is not claiming that Lenovo, Acer and Asus defied U.S. sanctions.]

Chinese tech giant Lenovo Inc. – along with Taiwan PC makers Acer and Asus - received an F grade for continuing to do business in Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in a new Yale School of Management report.

Lenovo has not returned phone calls and messages seeking comment since CRN first reported on the matter last month. Lenovo’s own Russian Landing page is up and operational and appears to be offering a discount this week.

“Lenovo’s silence has been disappointing considering its position as one of the leading PC companies in Russia with significant market share,” Steven Tian, research director of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute and one of the report authors, told CRN. “Peer Chinese companies such as Didi have suspended operations in Russia yet not Lenovo, while industry peers such as Dell have also suspended operations. The company has repeatedly dodged several requests for comment while continuing to do business. …not only is Lenovo clearly operational in Russia, it is even offering coupons for this week’s purchases.”

The report grades companies on how far beyond official government sanctions they are going in efforts to create economic consequences for Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Everyone on this list follows sanctions,” said Tian, noting that this project sees that as the bare minimum. “We’re not saying they’re in violation of the law. There might be an ethical violation, not a legal violation.”

Simply following U.S. sanctions gets companies nothing more than an F grade on the list, said Tian. “It’s great that companies are following U.S. sanctions, but that is what every company has to do,” he said. “It is legally required. We give companies zero credit for following sanctions. If a company puts out a statement saying they are following sanctions, that is an F in our book. The whole point of our list is to see which companies are voluntarily exceeding the scope of sanctions.”

Companies that have pulled out of Russia completely are having a major impact on the Russian economy. In fact, Tian said, Yales estimates that those companies have resulted in a loss of $350 billion in economic activity or 25 percent of Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP).

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Lenovo did not return messages seeking comment. Acer and Asus also did not return messages seeking comment.

The report update is the latest from a research group at Yale’s School of Management focused on Russia measures how companies are dealing with Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. Several U.S.-based companies also made the “digging in” portion of the list, receiving an F grade for doing no more than the bare minumum required by sanctions, including Koch Industries and Corning Inc.

CRN filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) for any correspondence between the department and Lenovo company officials concerning the current Russia sanctions. Kietta Lockerman, a government information specialist with the DOC, said the department would only provide information based on specific records with specific names and dates. (CRN continues to request information and will update).

A spokesman with the DOC’s Office of Foreign Asset Control told CRN, “We expect compliance from companies operating in China and elsewhere that make products that will be subject to the new Russia rules.” Citing an unnamed U.S. official, Bloomberg news reported that those who attempt to thwart sanction efforts face being sanctioned themselves and their executives could face jail time.

Several Lenovo Partners declined to comment for this article, out of fear of reprisal. One solution provider offered comment on the condition of anonymity: “Computer technology is really the enabler to a lot of good things and a lot of bad things. As long as Russia is able to get state-of-the-art technology, they are going to put it to bad use. Lenovo should stop doing business there. At the end of the day, these computers have Intel or AMD processors and those are American companies – the supply chain starts here and they wouldn’t be able to even deliver to Russia without us.”

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