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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, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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