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Gerhard Pfeifer: Backing Business in Russia

Published: July 16, 2014 (Issue # 1820)



  • Gerhard Pfeifer remains optimistic about the Russian business climate.
    Photo: Bosch

  • A worker building washing machines in one of Boschs Russian plants.
    Photo: Bosch

Russia andGerman engineering company Bosch have had close ties since tsarist times, says Gerhard Pfeifer, president andCEO ofBosch Groups operations inRussia, Georgia andCIS countries.

He can say that again: the company first arrived inRussia in1904. Though it did not stick around inSoviet times, theengineering andelectronics giant came back toRussia in1993, opening its first factory inthe Saratov region onthe Volga River in1996.

Bosch has maintained asteady presence onthe countrys power tools, automotive components andhousehold appliances markets ever since, andnot fornothing: Boschs growth rate inRussia in2010 and2011 reached up to30 percent.

Growth has since slowed tohover around 10 to20 percent, but still far outstrips thenational average theRussian economy in2014 is struggling toavoid arecession.

I call it back tonormal, the53-year-old Pfeifer says modestly ofhis companys expansion during anexclusive interview with TheSt. Petersburg Times, held atthe companys new boiler plant inthe Volga city ofEngels inthe Saratov region earlier this month.

Theexorbitant growth in2011 was due inlarge part toa 156 million euros ($212 million) paycheck forBoschs work onthe main stage ofMoscows renovated Bolshoi Theater, a12-story-tall piece oftheatrical machinery.

But theatrics aside, Boschs products remain indemand inRussia, andneither aneconomic slowdown nor theruckus over Ukraine andthe threat ofWestern sanctions are slowing down its activity inRussia, Pfeifer said.

Bosch has invested 250 million euros inRussia so far, including inthree plants inSaratov anda joint venture with Siemens inSt. Petersburg making household appliances. Anautomotive components plant inSamara is slated toopen in2015, andall that ontop ofa 120-million-euro headquarters inKhimki, just outside Moscow.

Pfeifer animpeccably polite man with acalm gaze andoccasional flashes ofwry humor had no personal ties toRussia before coming here as Bosch supremo forthe region in2011. He speaks with Russians through aninterpreter, andhis wristwatch shows German time.

But thecompany is doing something right inRussia, andPfeifer sat down with TheSt. Petersburg Times totalk about why thecountrys business climate is not as bad as it may seem.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 1


The St. Petersburg International Innovation Forum 2014 kicks off today at Lenexpo, where it will be presenting the latest and greatest ideas until Oct. 3. Focusing on economic development and the decisions and measures necessary to encourage development in Russias most important industries, the event is a possibility to discuss the innovations currently available in a variety of fields.


Representatives of the Russian and international media industries arrive in St. Petersburg for the first ever International Media Forum being hosted by the city until Oct. 10. With a variety of events on tap, including workshops, lectures and film screenings, the event plans to reemphasize the citys reputation as the countrys culture capital and as an emerging market and location for the visual arts.



Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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