Dmitry Dudarev: We Are Negotiating with Investors Non-Stop

Sources:

РБК+

Dmitry Dudarev: We Are Negotiating with Investors Non-Stop

The Acting General Director of the Lipetsk SEZ speaks about the relations with Italian and US business communities, priorities in investor relations, and digitalization of the special economic zone.

– Do you regard relations with the existing and prospective investors of the Lipetsk SEZ as a key area of your work?
– My plan is to meet with each tenant within the shortest time possible. It is critical for me to know the problems of our investors. I also need to receive full information about those of them who, for whatever reasons, breaches the project delivery terms. We are conducting negotiations with Russian and foreign investors almost non-stop. In April, we reached a preliminary agreement with two world-class companies, which are global leaders in agriculture and mechanical engineering I really hope that they will start operating on our sites in the near future. Three or four more companies have real prospects of coming to our special economic zone.
– A few days ago, Igor Artamonov presented the Lipetsk SEZ at a meeting with the representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia. What do you think of the prospects of working with US investors?
– I was also taking part in that meeting, so I would like to point out one important thing. It was the representatives of major US companies – PPG, Kemin, Honeywell, and Lamb Weston Belaya Dacha – who recommended the Lipetsk SEZ as an investor-friendly industrial site. Our American tenants gave a highly positive feedback on the investment environment and the level of business support in the Lipetsk Region. For me, that was the most important result of the meeting. I believe the management of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia will also highly appreciate our presentation. I had a talk with Alexis Rodzianko, and he assured me that the positive information about the Lipetsk SEZ would reach a wide range of US companies that consider developing their business in Russia. I regard constructive cooperation with the American Chamber of Commerce as a promising way of developing cooperation with US investors.
– In 2018, the Lipetsk SEZ set a record for attracting new investors by signing investment contracts with ten companies for the total value of EUR 2 billion. Is it possible to meet the same target, or even overachieve it, by the end of 2019? What steps should be taken for that purpose?
– Attracting new investors is a complex task. Russia currently has many investment sites with special conditions for businesses. These are the so-called development institutions such as priority development areas, special economic zones, industrial parks and tech parks. We are neighboring several special economic zones in Kaluga, Tula, Voronezh and the Moscow Region, and this why the need to compete for investors is now a reality for us. We study our competitors’ investment potential as thoroughly as possible, while evolving and growing our own one and generating new methods for dealing with investors and new approaches to investment development. The Lipetsk SEZ positions itself as a leader in this field, and we are determined to beat our past records and aim for new ones.
– What is your opinion about the level of digitalization in the Lipetsk SEZ at the moment? What will be done in this area in the coming years?
– We do have resources for further digitalization. The Lipetsk SEZ is a leading industrial economic zone, especially when it comes to building high-tech, advanced infrastructure for production sites. In 2018, the Lipetsk SEZ Management Company built a grid control center in Gryazi to improve efficiency of infrastructure management and quality of technical services provided to the tenants. At the moment, we are planning to establish a single environment for developing and testing new technological solutions on the premises of the Lipetsk SEZ (which, in fact, is a special model of an industrial monotown with its own roads, transport, logistics, energy supply lines, and utilities).
In late 2018, the Expert Council of the Lipetsk SEZ tested digital tools for examining and approving new investment projects. Since it is the first time in Russia that a special economic zone uses digital formats, they are implemented as part of a pilot project. We are also making focused efforts to digitalize all of our procedures – from attracting investments to full implementation of an investment project, including its further operations and reports from tenants. Our survey of the Lipetsk SEZ tenants has shown that most of them consider digital tools as a preferable option for further improvement of communication with the management company and local authorities. This is why the best solution would be to create a single digital platform for the economic zone.
– Italian companies historically have strong interests in the Lipetsk Region. Investments of Italian tenants in the Lipetsk SEZ total RUB 3.9 billion. How significant is this area of cooperation for the economic zone?
– In general, there are lots of things we can tell about the presence of Italian companies. As of today, their declared investments are approaching RUB 6 billion. We do have special relationships with the Italian business community. First of all, the Lipetsk SEZ owes its existence and development to cooperation with Italian companies who guaranteed that they would be our investors in case our region was given this status. It was the cooperation with Indesit that provided us with the expertise that helped the Lipetsk Region make its application for the special economic zone status, and it eventually won. Since then, we have been holding the Italian business community in great respect and are happy to see the number of our tenants from Italy increasing. During the recent visit of Italian Ambassador to Russia Pasquale Terraciano, Fondital made a presentation of its factory. Mr. Terraciano praised the results of Fondital’s development in the Lipetsk Region, and I fully agree with him. It is noteworthy that the investors decided to construct a second factory in our economic zone.
– In your recent interview to RBC Chermozemye, you noted that you had plans to improve the mechanism of bringing investors to the region. What exactly can be done to make communication with prospective investors more effective?
– We will try to make the most effective use of the investors’ contacts so as to communicate with their partners in business and industry unions. This significantly shortens the way to cooperation with almost any world-class company receiving our offer to set up a business in our economic zone.
One more important task is to bring cooperation between the Lipetsk SEZ and the regional administration to a new level. This should improve our joint efforts to attract investors to the region.
– Are there any drastic changes to expect in the Lipetsk SEZ in 2019 due to the change of the general director?
– At the moment, I see no reasons for revolutions. We have a tight-knit team, clear objectives, and a well-structured strategy. If we have to make any changes to our workflow, they will be taking place gradually, with no sudden movements.
– What goals and tasks did you set yourself as the Lipetsk SEZ General Director for 2019?
– The Lipetsk SEZ is rightfully seen as one of the most efficient industrial sites in Russia. As a businessman, I would like to get a full picture of how the company operates and develops. My hope is that my knowledge, expertise and ambitions will help it deliver even better results. I believe I must not simply keep up with the pace of change but be a step ahead.