British expat arranges Tatarstan investment tour
A multinational delegation of investors and entrepreneurs visited Kazan, Elabuga, and Naberezhnye Chelny from Nov. 2-4, meeting with government officials and local businesses to explore business opportunities in the region.
The business tour was organized by PPP Local, “a new multinational company founded to facilitate investment, trade and intelligence links among businesses and entrepreneurs, both internationally and locally within the regions of Russia,” explained the Oct. 31 press release announcing the tour.
Because its focus is on regional and emerging markets, PPP Local’s London headquarters is mirrored by a Russian office not in Moscow or Kazan but in Chistopol, a city of 60,000 people nearly two hours outside of the Tatarstan capital. British entrepreneur and founding partner Jonathan Fianu explained that the idea for PPP Local grew out of his experience organizing an ongoing wi-fi technology project in Chistopol with Vitaly Gubskiy, an investment and financial partner from Ukraine. During the research and development stage of that project, Fianu realized that their experience, network of contacts, and knowledge of the region could be useful for other international investors. He bounced the idea off Gubskiy, who agreed with the assessment and decided to join on as a co-founder, bringing along what Fianu describes as “very active temperament” and extensive personal and business connections.
The aim of the recent tour, according to the press release, was “to provide insight into the business climate of the Tatarstan region and to showcase its progressive economy via heavy insight events focused on various industries.”
To that end, the delegates — who hailed from the UK, Russia, and Ukraine, and represent concierge services, investment groups, leasing companies, legal services, polymer manufacturers, and wine manufacturers, among others — spent the majority of their trip meeting with representatives of local government agencies that encourage economic activity in the republic.
On Nov. 4, they met with Tatarstan First Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Igor Nosov, who gave an overview of the republic’s economy and major industries. Nosov stressed that Tatarstan is actively seeking investment in new technologies so as to diversify the republic’s economic portfolio away from reliance on oil-related industries.
Next, the delegation met with Chief Executive of the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency Linar Yakupov and his staff. Yakupov explained to the guests that the agency, which was formed by the government in June of this year, is trying to position itself as a “one-stop center” for investors interested in the region. As such, it is prepared to help potential businessmen with anything they might need, from information, to registration, to networking with local government, to even enrolling children in kindergarten.
The guests then visited Tatarstan’s IT Park, where they were briefed on the history of the park by Vasily Zakiev, Director of the park’s business incubator. The delegates also listened to presentations on some of the projects currently being developed in the business incubator, including 10Tracks, AlfaMed, Avtodoriya, SportFord, and Startpack. IT Park residents were then invited to join the delegation for a business lunch and more personal discussion of their projects.
After lunch, the delegation toured the factory of Danaflex, a company that produces plastic packaging film. The factory is located on the grounds of Himgrad Technopolis, an industrial complex designed to house the production facilities of small and medium enterprises involved in chemistry and polymer production. The day concluded with dinner with Artem Zdunov, Tatarstan Deputy Minister of Economy.
On the following day, the delegates were off to see Renat Khalimov in the Elabuga Special Economic Zone, a meeting that was followed up by another with Elabuga Municipal Deputy Zulfiya Sungatullina. They also visited KIP Master, an industrial park organized in Naberezhnye Chelny to house the production for suppliers to the truck manufacturer Kamaz, which is based in the city. Some of the delegates then flew from Nizhnekamsk to Moscow for further meetings, while others returned to Kazan to explore its cultural offerings and follow up with some of their new contacts.
Feedback from the tour has just begun, but according to Fianu it has been overwhelmingly positive. “I was unsure at the beginning, mainly because this was the first event we organized,” he explained in an interview, “but day by day, I got happier and happier, as the various delegates started realizing value and concrete plans, and ideas started to take shape.”
The variety of outcomes of the tour point to the value that the region has to offer, argued Fianu. One delegate is looking into merging his own plant with one in Tatarstan, to create economies of scale. Another is considering investing in one of the projects presented in IT Park, while yet another is interested in one of the production facilities that was toured in Naberezhnye Chelny.
Delegate Christopher Lavender, CEO of Intermark Autoleasing Group, came on the tour because one of his new shareholders wants to expand their Russian business into regional bases. After this visit, Kazan seems to him like a promising option. “I thought the tour was very well researched and presented. It was all very topical, exactly what we needed,” he explained in an interview. “We’ll be coming back and doing some more work on it shortly.”
PPP Local will continue to follow up with the delegates and help facilitate as they build their new partnerships locally. Later this month, the company will also launch www.ppplocal.com, an online platform where foreign investors and local governments and businesses can interact remotely. The company is also planning on organizing future tours, and is already in conversation with the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce about organizing a visit for U.S. investors.