After the start of a special operation in Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions, the Russian economy has found itself in a new reality, and few large Russian businessmen dare to comment on its condition. The owner of NLMK, Vladimir Lisin, whose position Kommersant got acquainted with, called the situation very difficult and called on the government not to worsen it by ill-considered regulation.
For the first time, NLMK’s main shareholder Vladimir Lisin has publicly expressed his opinion on the problems related to the conflict in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia. The key issue on the agenda is not development, but the survival of the business, he told Kommersant: “Supply chains are collapsing over the years, logistics, payment and financial infrastructure are failing. And against this background, the rules of the game change every day, new restrictions appear. In conditions of high uncertainty, we are changing business processes, trying to meet our social obligations. “
According to Vladimir Lisin, some regulatory initiatives in Russia are of concern:
“Obviously, many measures are now being taken rapidly, their consequences have not been fully analyzed. It seems to me that speed should give way to reliability and adequacy, so that the consequences are not devastating for the domestic industry, which employs millions of people. “
Among such initiatives, he called the expansion of the list of export goods that are supposed to be sold for rubles. On March 31, Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the need to pay in rubles for the supply of pipeline gas to “unfriendly countries.” State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin offered to sell other goods, including metals, for rubles.
“The idea is that you can start selling fertilizers, grain, oil, metals, wood, something else for rubles. I don’t know, maybe something will work with gas, but the rest? – Vladimir Lisin emphasizes. – We have been fighting for decades for export markets where no one is waiting for us. We have built relationships with thousands of customers in 70 countries. It is difficult to imagine what can persuade our customers to switch to ruble settlements and bear currency risks. Logistical problems have already complicated the delivery of products to the consumer. Switching to ruble payments will simply throw us off international markets. ”
According to Vladimir Lisin, another unsuccessful idea is a bill on delisting depository receipts of Russian companies from foreign exchanges: “How can this help stabilize the economy? The Ministry of Economic Development believes that this will reduce the risk of losing control when buying shares at low prices. Well, if now one of the Russian issuers is worried about it, they have the right to decide on the delisting, no one interferes. So far, the proposed bill is not reducing risks, but growth. The rights of shareholders who believe in Russia and have invested in the Russian market for many years are being violated, such as those who cannot hold Russian shares directly. They have nothing to do with politics, and there is a risk that their property rights will simply be lost. “
Vladimir Lisin does not argue that the government is looking for mechanisms that can support business in the current environment. “And I see that, for example, the ministries are working on supporting infrastructure projects for the development of domestic consumption, discussing the possibility of stimulating the construction of preferential mortgages, a moratorium on inspections. These are useful but local initiatives, ”the businessman admits.
But the main recipe, in his opinion, in the current situation is to enable businesses, large and small, and people themselves to adapt to new conditions: “You should not try to administer everything to the hilt, it only harms business. Today’s situation is more than just another economic crisis we have faced before. It requires a much more serious approach and quality, balanced decisions. “
In particular, Vladimir Lisin notes that fixing prices for metal products in the domestic market and abandoning formula pricing based on market indices does not simplify the life of business:
“We see, for example, that in recent weeks, suppliers of materials, equipment and components have raised prices many times over. In such conditions, the freezing of prices for finished products will lead to the fact that its production will simply stop due to losses.
“We are already seeing an increase in the cost of transportation,” adds Vladimir Lisin. In general, the idea of indexing transport tariffs while fixing prices for everything else will lead to the fact that it will be possible to transport only metal and fertilizers by rail, the rest – only by truck. For agriculture, it will be a complete collapse. “
Also, according to Vladimir Lisin, the initiative to create a consolidated fleet of cars under the management of Russian Railways is a cause for concern: It is now proposed to transfer them to Russian Railways. Why? Apparently, the times of chronic shortage of cars have been forgotten. At the same time, Russian Railways already has the largest rolling stock operator in the country – FGC. With its help it is possible to solve all state tasks “.
At the same time, Russian business found itself between two fires: the regulatory ideas of the authorities, on the one hand, and the constant threat of Western sanctions, including personal ones, on the other.
“It is difficult to reduce my attitude to the topic of personal sanctions to a single simple emotion or thought,” Vladimir Lisin explained in response to a question from Kommersant. On the one hand, says the businessman, they directly or indirectly affect many people who now have to try to work and live in a new reality. Understandably, he stressed that “this need cannot but be alarming, because sanctions can destroy everything that has been created over the years.” According to Vladimir Lisin, it is not so much about personal well-being, but about “a cascade of negative consequences for tens of thousands of employees and tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of employees of various partner companies and customers.”
On the other hand, and this is an important part of my attitude, it is a shame to complain about personal problems in a humanitarian catastrophe, “added Vladimir Lisin.” Sanctions may seem unfair, with elements of collective responsibility, will try to stop by any means available. “
In his opinion, in the current conditions, economic measures can be considered as “an alternative to force, which gives the situation a chance not to fall into a global conflict that could turn into a catastrophe for all.”