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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

Friday, Jan. 30 through Wednesday, Feb. 4



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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