The Russia Forum 2013: Day One. Russia Today: Turning points and investment potential

April 18, 2013


The speeches and discussions of the first day of The Russia Forum 2013 promise to be pertinent and extremely informative. The plenary and panel discussions will both examine the present and look to the future as the panelists explore topics including prospects for Russia’s political and economic development, the unique features of the country’s investment experience, and key challenges facing Russia and its partners today.

The Forum gets underway today, April 18, at 10:00, with an opening address by Herman Gref, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Sberbank, who will set the tone for the forthcoming debates before giving the floor to Sergei Ivanov, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, who will introduce the first plenary session: “Turning point: Communism was Russia’s answer to the challenges of the 20th century. What can we expect in the 21st century?” This discussion will feature Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State, Vaclav Klaus, ex-President of the Czech Republic, and Li Zhaoxing, former Foreign Minister of China. Sharing their views on Russia’s unique post-communist development in the 21st century will be academics Charles Wyplosz, Professor of International Economics and Director, International Centre for Monetary and Banking Studies, Alexei Kudrin, Head of Committee of Civil Initiatives at Saint Petersburg State University, and Harvard University Professor Richard Pipes.

Leading representatives of the global investment community as well as the heads of major companies will make up the panel of the second plenary session “Investing in Russia: What Drives Investors Today?” The discussion will be moderated by Sberbank CIB Co-head Ruben Vardanian. While Russia has its fair share of problems, it also offers a number of advantages for investors: rising consumer demand, accession to WTO, scheduled reforms, path to membership in the OECD, etc. How can Russia reverse this tendency, attract corporate investors and increase overall investment? Answering these questions and discussing other stumbling blocks to investment in Russia will be leading experts, investors and businesspeople: Mark Mobius, Executive Chairman, Templeton Emerging Markets Group, David Bonderman, Principal and Founding Partner of TPG, Marс Samwer CEO and Managing Director of the European Founders Fund, Arkady Volozh, General Director of Yandex, Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, Igor Komarov, President of AvtoVAZ, and Leonid Fedun, Vice President of Lukoil.

Discussions in the second part of the day will move to a more practical level. The panel session titled “Tapping the Potential of Siberia and Russia’s Far East” will be devoted to the investment opportunities of this macro-region and will shed light on a number of pertinent issues. What factors are currently holding the regions back? What needs to be done in order to build up strong industrial bases in eastern Siberia and the Far East? Representatives of some of Russia’s major businesses will seek answers to those questions and others during the discussion: Artem Volynets, General Director of En+, Igor Zyuzin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Mechel, Pavel Grachev, General Director and Board Member of the Far East and the Baikal Region Development Fund, among other experts.

Meanwhile, the participants of the panel discussion “Commodities Markets: the New Reality” will explore a number of pertinent issues for the Russian economy, a large portion of which depends directly on the commodities sector. While this volatile sector has many risks, the opportunities are impressive. What is suppressing the interest of global strategic players toward Russian assets? Should manufactures place their bets on greenfield projects or pursue strategies more focused on M&A. Sharing their insights on these questions will be Maxim Volkov, Chairman of the Board, CEO, BoD Member, PhosAgro, Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, Chairperson, Supervisory Board, Louis Dreyfus Holding BV, Paul Robinson, Director, Multi Commodity Projects, CRU and others.

The panel discussion “How Can the Valuation Gap of Russian Companies Be Overcome?” will be devoted to the challenges facing Russia’s securities market. A recent report from Sberbank Investment Research quantified the valuation discount to global emerging markets in the range of 25-50%. The same report also highlighted that Russia’s equity risk premium is materially higher than most peer group markets. Why does this valuation gap exist and how can it be overcome? Senior Vice President of Sberbank Anton Karamzin will moderate the session and tackling the question at hand will be Albert Ganyushin, Head of International Listings, NYSE Euronext, Maria Gordon, Executive Vice President and Emerging Markets Equity Portfolio Manager at PIMCO, Jean-Michael Six, Managing Director, Chief EMEA Economist for Standard and Poor’s, Mikhail Shamolin, Board Director and CEO of Sistema among other well-known financiers.

A speech by Igor Shuvalov, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation will conclude the first day of The Russia Forum 2013.

Keep up with the news from The Russia Forum 2013 on the event’s website as well as on the official pages of the Forum on Facebook and Twitter as well as on the television station Rossiya 24.