CEO Cancellations No Setback for Forum
Published: May 14, 2014 (Issue # 1810)
The Russian Ministry of Economic Development has said that the decision by some international companies to cancel their participation in the upcoming St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, or SPIEF, from May 22 to 24 will not directly affect their relationship with the Russian government.
“We reject any dialogue that involves putting pressure on businesses, blatant blackmail, or threats,” said Sergei Belyakov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, as reported on the ministry’s website last week.
“We will not close the door to the Russian economy and the Russian market for those companies which will not be coming. We will, of course, assist them and…can therefore assure these companies that this will have no effect on our relationship with them,” he said.
Belyakov also stated that approximately 15 percent of company directors who originally registered to participate in the forum had pulled out. However, he also said that many companies had explained their decision by citing pressure put on them by the U.S. government following the recent sanctions placed on Russia.
Last week, Russian daily newspaper Izvestia reported that at least 34 top managers from foreign companies had canceled their registration to the forum after recommendations released by the U.S. government last week to do so due to the Ukrainian crisis. In fact, most of these managers are from American companies then followed by managers from the U.K. and Germany, reported Izvestia.
Izvestia also published a list of names of the managers who had allegedly pulled out, a list that includes John Faraci, CEO of International Paper Company, Siemens president Joe Kaeser, Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi and Deutsche Bank co-chairman Juergen Fitschen.
However, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank said the list was inaccurate.
“Juergen Fitschen had never confirmed his participation in the forum, as its opening coincides with the bank’s annual general meeting in Germany on May 22,” spokesman Dmitry Agishev told AFP.
According to a New York Times report last week, the White House has been pressuring chief executives from some of America’s largest energy, financial and industrial corporations to cancel their plans to attend the forum, which will be hosted by President Vladimir Putin.
The report said that top executives from giant companies such as Alcoa, Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo, Morgan Stanley, ConocoPhillips and other multinational companies that do business in Russia have either pulled out of the conference or plan to do so after an intensive lobbying campaign by President Obama’s advisers.
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