rouble
The Russian ruble has been in free-fall throughout 2014Reuters

The rapid depreciation of the Russian ruble (RUB) will be a cause for panic among European businesses with operations in Russia.

Such concern is understandable; against the US dollar, it has lost around 50% of its value in 2014 and European company profits are likely to be hit by rising prices within Russia, while it is becoming increasingly difficult to move money out of the country or to hedge FX risk.

The ruble will likely experience further drops in price before any sign of respite, though there is the chance the FX market will close itself off to the ruble and it will be impossible to trade in RUB.

Nonetheless, this is a mere possibility and right now European companies needn't rush to remove all operations from Russia.

Despite the upheaval, Russia continues to represent a lucrative opportunity for European companies, with its vast population of 140 million people, growing middle-class concentrated primarily in Moscow and St Petersburg, and a strong penchant for European products.

Why there is no need to panic

The European companies likely to prosper in Russia are those that establish long-term strategies to limit damage, rather than making knee-jerk responses to market developments in panic.

European companies should step back and carefully plan a strategy based on their long-term interests in Russia.

Looking to hedge against exchange rate volatility should be their first move, through the use of forward contracts.

Though it is worth bearing in mind that more foreign exchange liquidity providers are offering less flexible terms on ruble hedging products due to the continuing drop in the currency's value.

A successful hedging strategy coupled with the opening of a ruble bank account in the home country of a European company - strategy two - gives a much stronger foundation to limit the damage of a depreciating ruble.

A third strategy is to freeze prices.

Choosing not to raise prices in line with a strong drop in the value of a currency is always a tough decision, as what it means for companies is that they will likely have to take a hit to their balance sheet. But it is an excellent strategy for the long-term, keeping customers on side and ensuring the exchange rate risk is not passed on to them.

Fourth, companies can aim to minimise currency exchange transactions, and instead focus on conducting more transactions only in ruble.

Where a European company's Russian subsidiary may have been reliant on imports from outside Russia before, looking for alternative suppliers within the country will save costs.

If this is not possible, speaking to foreign suppliers directly about the possibility of negotiating a lower pricing agreement. Asking them to take into account that it is now much more expensive to import, is certainly an option worth exploring.

It is worth noting that in turbulent times there is usually opportunity.

The ruble collapse represents an opportunity for companies to extend an olive branch to customers who may themselves be panicking over inflation in their country and increasing prices of consumer goods.

It is the companies prepared to take the above measures that will likely be rewarded for weathering the ruble storm in the long-term rather than employing rash reactionary measures.

Philippe Gelis is the CEO and co-founder Kantox.