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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, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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