Billionaire on Olympus: how Vladimir Potanin became the main private investor of Sochi 2014

One of the authors of the Sochi 2014 idea, the owner of Interros holding Vladimir Potanin told Forbes about the birth the Olympic project and why it ultimately failed to meet expectations of investors.
Origin source
Sochi Olympic mountain resorts are not very similar to the pastoral alpine village. "Rosa Khutor" Vladimir Potanin (№7 in Russian rating of Forbes, the state - $ 14.3 billion) is more like a miniature copy of Moscow in the Grand Yakimanka, where the offices of his "Interros" holding. On both sides of the concrete-clad bank of the Mzymta river rise luxury hotels Radisson, Park Inn, Golden Tulip, Mercury c expensive restaurants, fashionable boutiques and sportswear, beauty salons, car rental and shop coats. Above -. Mountain Olympic Village area of ​​32 hectares, tens of kilometers of ski slopes with a height difference of more than 1500 m Everywhere a lot of snow, rattling off all of December, in the happiness of the Contest organizers.

Ten years ago, a fan of skiing Potanin has decided to spend a few tens of millions of dollars to build in Sochi "for the" small ski resort. The venture eventually turned into a huge Olympic construction with a budget of 1.5 trillion rubles. One of the masterminds and direct participant in all stages of the Olympic project, Potanin spent on him more than any ofnd other private investor.

Without state support for its "Rose Farm" does not pay off ever, and while Potanin will have to "give" the sport of about $ 700 million in personal funds.

"Such expensive gifts I have not done," - ironically businessman and a half months before the Olympics. he himself does not look or frustrated or tired.

Potanin told Forbes his Olympic story, answered questions about corruption, especially public management, and that such an expensive sporting event whether it is necessary for Russia.

"It's a billion"

In February 2001, President Vladimir Putin was on a state visit in Vienna. After the official part of the Austrian President Thomas Klestil invited him to try the famous ski slopes in the resort of St. Anton am Arlberg in the province where the just ended World Cup in alpine skiing. On the mountain has a motley crew: two presidents accompanied by the future head of the Olympic Committee of Russia and Putin skiing coach Leonid tractors, deputy director of "Norilsk Nickel" Dmitry Zelenin, GovernorKrasnodar Territory Alexander Tkachev and the oppositionist Boris Nemtsov. After officials rolled guards: trained skiers from the Austrian Cobra and not very skillful FSOshniki, losing on the move caps, sticks and gloves. Experienced skiers and Zelenin Potanin went behind all the fallen and collected from the heart rejoiced. After riding Putin gathered all the tea.

"For a tea party theme emerged that there is a good resort, all in a good mood, so would we the same", - says Potanin, sitting in the restaurant Black Bar & Grill in a hotel "Rosa Khutor". Interview with Forbes spread over a whole day - businessman constantly absented himself: it arrived for talks with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, then the symbolic elections mayor of the resort, arranged to mark the opening of the season.

"Rosa Khutor" let ordinary visitors just three weeks (from 7 January ski area closed for the preparation and holding of the Olympic Games). Although it is Moscow's prices - according to, early in the season standard double room at the "Rosa Khutor" cost 13 000-15 000 rublesnight - all hotels crammed to the eyeballs. In a huge queue for the outfit languishing in mostly foreigners and residents of the Krasnodar Territory, with many trails are closed due to heavy snowfall. Along with tourists on the slopes - the staff of the French Compagnie des Alpes, the operator "Rosa Khutor", as well as the famous European resorts in Val d'Isere, Chamonix and Tignes.

It plans to do in Russia Sankt Anton Potanin started immediately after returning home. He hired a Canadian expert who did the design runs in Calgary and Vancouver. Potanin advised two "points" - the best was the so-called Engelmanova the field, but it was impossible to build there, the area has the status of the reserve. The runner-up Rosa Khutor - Canadians have said that this is the best the world has not yet mastered the unique place with a height difference. Ambitions to build a complex cost more than two billion dollars was not there, Potanin says he saw "small compact kurortik": 3-4 and 2-3 lift "outrun". And to be sure the atmosphere like in St. Anton.

- When I was thinking of doing absolutely for itself, it would$ 70 million. Then Canadians told that you can do about a hundred kilometers of trails, which means about 20 lifts up to 6,500 tourists. It became clear that it is somewhere $ 350 million. But when we showed up to the Olympics, and especially when it is won, we realized that it was a billion.
In fact, the first application for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia applied in 1994 - then we will qualify for the Olympics in 2002, but the Russian bid is not even got to the shortlist. In 1999, we are preparing an application for the Summer Games, but never filed. During the Games in 2004 fought St. Petersburg, and in 2005 at the Summer Games in 2012 said Moscow and nearly Potanin confused all the cards.
- There is little doubt that Moscow will lose, but still pretended to have a chance. And, accordingly, all the talk about the fact that we declare yet another Olympics, were to the detriment of the application of Moscow. As I understand it, Luzhkov these thoughts brought to Putin. And we have the spring of 2005 began to specifically lobby for the idea of ​​filing of the application and Cochinskoy began this flurry of activity inconvenience.
The fate of the Sochi Olympics has been resolved in a secret meeting with Putin in Sochi the same.
gathered Multiplayerlko people - tractors, Tkachev, Potanin, manager of President Vladimir Kozhin. At some point it became clear that the secrecy too clever by half: none of the participants did not know how to switch slides to the presentation to your computer. Helped daughter Nastja Potanin.
- We have shown these pictures, and then more than an hour there was a discussion, and Putin said, "You have not convinced me, but I see that there is a prospect of this topic. But so far there is no confirmation of the Moscow proposal that your spirit was not. After the application back and talk. "
- Moscow soon lost to London. And who finally persuaded Putin?
- Finally, Putin has convinced me. By the time we lost the Moscow application, this idea appeared a certain number of enthusiasts, in particular, [German] Gref and Slava Fetisov. Plus tractors, as I understand it, it is all ears to Putin about Sochi buzzed.

«I promise»

"This is the theme that can bring suitcases and everything will be - this is nonsense" - angrily responds Potanin to the question of how managed to Sochi, where there was not even a hint of the necessary sports facilities, getting around in KoreanPyeongchang and Salzburg in Austria. On the night of 5 July 2007 in faraway Guatemala at the IOC session, Putin said his famous «I promise» [I vow], and the city of Sochi won the right to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2014. According to Potanin, the money for the application were collected from three sources: the part gave the Russian Olympic Committee, part - the city of Sochi, the rest - his company "Interros", which has made $ 30 million of the required $ 100 million In addition, studying the methods of other countries, pulled hard. artillery - state and close to the business to the state. According to the calculations Potanin, state-owned and its neighbors on the Forbes list have spent another $ 100 million on the sponsorship of the International Olympic Committee and its programs, which previously did not show interest.

- If you sacrifice money for the federation, then you are given the opportunity to hold competitions, to prepare athletes to enter the governing bodies - Potanin explains. - This works much better than any of the suitcases with money.
Potanin said that VTB played a role in supporting the ruble Athletics Federation, Alisher Usmanov - Vehtovalschikov, Vladimir Lisin - Shooting Union. But the main success was Putin himself.
- I organized meetings with IOC members, did brief the president about what they might want to hear. Putin met with some incredible number of people. On the evening before the vote he had come to the general meeting, there were probably 80 members of the International Olympic Committee. And it formed a long queue as the Hermitage. According to the regulations he had to attend to 23:30, and stood up to an hour.
- The first round won the Koreans, but that has changed then?
- It's like KVN. I'll tell you in a moment, I realized that we had won. We all sat and listened to our performance. Putin is in English normally says, his tongue is quite decent. Therefore, he said well enough emotionally in English and at the end of another two or three sentences in French. Although Putin as saying he is not an artist ...
- Even some artists!
- He does not like to be treated leniently. Hence the phrase in French, which he did not speak, and learned how to type could - it was with himTorons clear such a compliment. And then acts the president of the Republic of Korea. It turns out, takes the paper and starts to speak in Korean. I looked at it, say, guys, all convinced. Contrast.
"To carry the grass?"

"Winter Games" on one of the main Russian summer resorts - it sounds like an oxymoron, and the organizers of the Olympic Games until the last moment feared that the warm weather has spoiled all plans. In the end, lucky with the weather, but preparing for the worst case, knocking confusing even local bears.

"In 2012, we had to prepare the snow half a million cubic meters," - said Potanin, whose "Rosa Khutor" a few hundred "snow guns". On one of the slopes are still rising snow mountain, which since last year thoroughly frozen together, and now it is necessary to break the bulldozers. In summer, the snow was covered with foil, and wandered in the vicinity of the resort bear was very surprised, like heat, but also snow. "I decided it was time to go to bed, and began to dig there. His chase, and he comes back and tries to burrow into the den and take a nap "- laughing PotAnin.

Disorient were not only bears. After the triumph of the Guatemalan Olympic functionaries before the question arose - how to build a city from scratch, quickly and efficiently. The mechanism of the federal target programs did not fit - construction will be delayed for decades. On "Olimpstroy" wave of what was then the fashion of the state corporation was established, the structure with unclear authority and unclear legal status. In Putin's choice of a company headed by the former head of "Transneft" Simeon Weinstock, who six months later resigned, and then received the order. Since then, the Olympic construction began reshuffle: the year of the president "Olimpstroya" worked the former head of Sochi Viktor Kolodyazhny, after he was appointed as the former owner of the brewing company "Baltika" Teimuraz Bolloev that eighteen months later resigned for health reasons. In the end, to finish building the Olympic facilities had a little-known bureaucrat Sergei Gaplikova.

All the fuss, says Potanin, is associated with the classical to the modern Russian dilemma: assign clever or true?
- Someone, for example, should not be on a plansteal, but does not possess outstanding organizational abilities, and someone has such capabilities, but does not fit the other criteria. And quite a long time to choose the people who were frankly someone's protégé. As a result, most of these people it was either useless or not the profile or not Senka cap is called. Therefore, the process was not smooth, to say the least.

The bureaucracy around Sochi was growing like a snowball, says Potanin: in parallel along with the State Corporation worked Olympic Committee, Organizing Committee, ministries and agencies.

- Rather than do that, every man asks the paper that he is allowed to do what is necessary. VEB became tighten the screws. Those who control the bank, the prosecutor's office began to scare investors. The Bank began to cover themselves one place with all sorts of papers and reinsured. Accordingly, the decisions were to concentrate only on the top. And in the end all agreed on one Kozak.

A longtime friend of Putin's St. Petersburg City Hall, Dmitry Kozak - one of the few officials who passed Olympusysky way through. On his way to arrange a meeting or hours of throwing an ashtray at anyone who breaks the terms legendary. When asked about the role of the Kozak at a construction site Potanin answers evasively, noting that the contractors for the control system had been hard. But not without absurdity.

- For example, the boss arrives. That most bosses, I am sure, it is not necessary that the asphalt was in construction. Because any normal person normally show the construction site, where the dirt. And we need to be sure any date object to pass, to lay asphalt, lay carpet, and then remove the asphalt to make the fence.

Another example: in the framework of measures for the improvement of the object investors prescribed spread out lawns. Date of completion - 1 September, by that date, "Interros" orders lawns. For carrying out the infrastructure while the State is responsible. What: September 1, October 1 and even no water, no gas is carried out, the commissioning is delayed. Accordingly, the landscaping makes no sense - there is still something to dig. Sitting, waiting. But the grass is already haplacheno. We ask: where to ship? To carry the grass? Already in November it ends. We say, well, Bring. And the grass is gone; December 4 dropped a meter of snow and the grass in Voronezh. All! The report concluded.

"So eager that lost appetite"

In the first stage, investors literally exploded in Sochi: Waiting for the big money eclipsed all risks. As an example, sparkling enthusiasm Potanin brings history unlucky builder jumps and resort "Gorki Gorod" Ahmed Bilalova; telling her he laughs.

The number of Russian delegation in Guatemala was 80 people, including famous athletes, officials, and entertainers. All three rows occupied with regard Extra chairs. After Putin came to fall, I began to distribute, who should sit in the front row - it's a question of "political". In the front row we had to sit recognizable sports persons and those who spoke at the presentation. In the second row, for example, Potanin and Gref, the third row - "more technical".
- Peskov (Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary -. Forbes) went to call the PresidiaNTU in the airplane, to be able to establish the connection and report the latest news - win or lose. The cat on the roof - the mouse into a dance.

And at once: the second row is almost free, and in the first row almost on the lap of someone sitting Bilalov. That said, the rest of his history at the Olympics.

Who wishes to join megastroyke lined up - the objects ripped from his hands. "Everyone thought that now there will be a Klondike and earn all the wild amount of money", - Potanin explains. Not on their own in Sochi there was only the owner of "Renova" Viktor Vekselberg, which called in 2012 to build a hotel complex in the Imereti lowland. Originally this place was going to build the former owner of Cherkizovsky market Telman Ismailov, but promises are not fulfilled. "And the others so eager that lost appetite - laughing Potanin. - Build started everything, even beavers. And the market is actively spoiled for many years ahead. "

Over the years, the enthusiasm died down considerably. Hope the government to pay most of the facilities to investors disappeared. Major investments in the construction of a resultrishlos done to the State itself and public companies. In 2013, due to the appreciation of objects and attempt to steal a few criminal cases have been opened. Bilalov, who publicly criticized Putin for the failure of construction time, fled abroad, he had to finish building the facilities to Sberbank.

- Someone until the last moment quietly hiding, thinking: maybe blow over. They say: write in the report that you are to a certain date are all done. They say, do not write. Once "received" for this, the second, and the third all began to write. And gradually increased formalities atmosphere in which the main thing - to report any price. So he built, then built. If anything could earn - well, no - well, okay.

Now, only six members of the list, Forbes - investors Olympic construction. And, for example, UMMC owners have already said that will not even try to fight off their money: they built an ice arena would go to the state free of charge. Three - Potanin Deripaska and Vekselberg - still hoping to make their projects paid back, but it is clear that without the help gov'tCTBA is impossible. Olympic projects "Interros", including "Rosa Khutor", Russian International Olympic University and the mountain Olympic village, were treated at 81.5 billion rubles. About 80% of this money gave VEB bail all constructed objects.

- We are in front of the investors turned to the contractors of the state. Kozak was the only project coordinator, VEB - the headquarters of the decision-making that will be funded and what does not. And we have become a people who justify why they should give money. It's probably more like not even on the contractor and to the managing partner, who is also soinvestiruet with the state.

Express train

Towards noon Potanin in the company of several "Interros" managers climbs mountains on a lift: dressed in sports, ski jacket and sunglasses, carries skis, but this is only for the sake of a photo shoot for Forbes. Ride time today is not - in a couple of hours, "Rose Farm" waiting for the head of government, Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev is usually not on the rolls "Rosa Khutor", and "Laura" resort & laquo; Gazprom, "Eyewitnesses say that the equipment at the premiere of" average "and a cavalcade of security and accompanying stretched to polsklona. But for dinner, this time he came to the "Rosa Khutor", a local restaurant "Red Fox".

One of the authors of the Sochi-2014 idea, the owner of the holding "Interros" Vladimir Potanin told of Forbes, was born the Olympic project and why he ultimately failed to meet expectations of investors

During the visits of important guests as if the object is switched to the siege mode. The only road that connects the "Rosa Khutor" with the outside world, the police and the Federal Security Service have blocked all the time, while Medvedev was staying at the resort. Lunch premiere lasted about an hour, forty minutes, Medvedev talked with Potanin. All entreaties travelers miss their cars, so people have time to, for example, on the plane, did not give any result.

The main question for Potanin and other investors - restructuring of loans granted under the Olympic construction. "I pedaliruet this topic and will pedal" - pounding his fist on the table Potanin. For a year, all Olympic Investors, VCyuchaya "Gazprom", Sberbank, "Basel", write letters to the government to subsidize the rate of credits and create in Sochi special economic zone with preferential tax treatment. Errors were originally laid down in the three-volume bid book, said Potanin.

Initial figures were actually taken from the ceiling - there was not that detailed designs, but even these studies, which would more or less accurately assess the value of the costs. Estimates were in the style of "Railroad in principle possible to build here? Can. Draw. "

As a result, the overall Olympic budget in seven years has grown from 314 billion to 1.5 trillion rubles.
We understand it pretty quickly, but did not dare say. "I do not know how we did without it in our culture," - said Potanin.
- It turns out a mistake five times?
- Want to tell me so. And for our project we were wrong 30 times. Or twice since, when they realized that the Olympics will be. First there was the Olympic village, which we did not plan at build. To us, it came because there was nowhere to go, and looked as though we ourselves want, as investors. Hm was ascribed to do something in the competition - additional tracks, additional lifts. Went to the topic of public procurement - build the fence, hang chain, set the turnstiles. And then there was another freestyle snowboard park ... I'm from the outset proceeded from the fact that I am here to help, roughly speaking, but I also help at the right time, to which we now come.
- It turned out that the extra commitment is not just the economy of the project is deteriorating, and there is none, of the economy. Have you ever realized this, after the crisis?

- The crisis has not affected at all. The Olympics was like an express train, and a change of scenery around is not very much affected.
Potanin is recognized that it is not expected that the participation in the Olympic construction will come to him sideways. In addition there were additional commitments and additional restrictions: apartments, pledged in VEB, forbidden to sell before the Games. The resort is working at half strength, closing for holidays in the best season of the European Cup, then the World Cup.

According to Potanin, if the state will not restructure the obligations "Interros", then it can lose up to $700 million of its own funds. In January, in an interview to television channel "Russia 24" Kozak noted that investors are "drawn" on purpose, to get public support. According to him, the number of people in the mountain cluster transcendental - hotels filled to 104%.

- See, to resort living, for it is impossible to take money from us more than we earn - Potanin explains. - Because for "Rosa Khutor" is necessary in the coming quarters after the Olympics to invest 4.5 billion rubles, including to transform the resort of winter in the year round, and from a purely sports - in an affordable mass-visitor. And free cash flow for this simply nowhere to take.

Ski Resort opened two years ago (current season - the third), but I have never worked in full force: three weeks of work this season, "Rose Farm" has gained only 104 million rubles. In the coming years, after the Olympics, the company expects annual revenue of 3-5 billion rubles, of which about 2 billion - "on the mountain", 1bn - of rental accommodations and 1-2 billion - from the sale of apartments. In this year 'Rosesand Farm "has to pay about 5 billion loan and 1 billion rubles for the property tax.
By the end of 2013 to the VEB loan interest accumulated only about 13 billion rubles, if not restructured obligations, the project does not pay off ever.

If, however, the interest will not be capitalized annually and for income tax holidays will be announced, then after 20 years, the company will be able to carry itself with its obligations. And after 40 years will receive the first net profit, calculated in "Rosa Khutor".

At first glance, investors meeting with the Prime Minister was successful: at its end they were not allowed to pay interest on loans to VEB 2015. "On the one hand, the positive results of the meeting that the Government first drew attention to this problem, before offering somehow manage themselves. On the other hand, it remains unclear: the interest on the loan VEB will not charge or will not be required until 2015? If the latter, it is more like a stay of execution of the sentence, "- said Potanin.

"The percentage of normal, standard"

In January 2014 IOC member Jean Franco Kaspershared estimates that in Russia on large projects such as the Olympic Games due to corruption disappears about 30% of the funds. However, this is not the official position of the IOC and private utterance Casper. But answering questions about how it was possible to contrive a giant sports construction in the country with rampant corruption, such as Russia, Potanin clearly angry - evident that this theme it really hurts.

- Yes, of course, very strong element of corruption in all spheres of life.
- What is the percentage?
- Percentage of ordinary, standard.
- What - regular?
On this issue and without movable Potanin almost jumps up on a chair and calls Forbes correspondents "to order." "Standard" for Russian megaprojects percentage of kickbacks he did not name, but he is clearly not small. "The corruption component in our country is macroeconomic in nature", - the comment Potanin has decided to restrict.
- I have to say this is still such a thing. I realized that we have a crisis of philosophical and motivational. This is relatively speaking, if we build this resort and not go bankrupt,- It will be good or bad? For example, for me, it is obvious that it will be very good. But it is not obvious to everyone.
- You are someone specifically mean?
- Representatives of the regional and city administration, various ministries and departments, politicians, State Duma deputies. Investigative bodies do not even have to ... We have not found a consensus on whether or not good, if a citizen of a particular rich Potanin earn as a result of the fact that the resort is built here. And there is an evaluation criterion. And that's too bad, because you're telling me and what it is you got into this business without guarantees, you do normal businessman. And in another way, we can not be in such a social environment we all venture project.
Are you in any project you do not know you, roughly speaking, condemn or reward.
When asked whether it was worth while even venturing venture on such a scale, Potanin answers another question.
- Not worth it to the state or not cost me?
- You risk your money. The state runs the risk, sorry, ours. Maybe it made sense to build a new hospital?
- Do not confuse cause and effect. If the EUbe certain mischievous personality, then, roughly speaking, they would be stolen and the hospital, and on the road.

Immediately after winning the Sochi bid in 2007, Potanin in winning euphoria compared the significance of this event for the country since the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, or even with Yuri Gagarin's flight into space. On the eve of the Olympics, we would like to remind him that comparison.

Concluding the Olympic construction, Potanin configured philosophically: the country is trying to fly in deep space, and lives according to the laws, which has flown into space, Yuri Gagarin.

- What if we made it our goal to fly to Mars and have spent the same resources, it would give a greater multiplier effect for the country than the Olympics?

- If a country can not build a better resort, something about Mars is better not stutter in the world. It is not possible to fly to Mars, when you have a cheesy kettles, coats, boots - well, you can not! - Hot Potanin.

But half an hour later, when his "Rosa Khutor" covered the new snowfall, and in the light of lanterns town began to look like a Christmas picture, Potanin again happy and relaxed. Coming outThe Radisson, he walks in the town hall: Potanin apparently like all that was built, and the whole thing with the Olympics, does not seem to disappoint him so far.

- Yes, dear, yes, crooked, but as we could. And it turned out much better than many other things that we have built.
Let's talk seriously. We have so many raspilochnyh in the state, but here done anything for the people.

There will be a vacation can be, there are many hotels to be something repaired here - Potanin argues, again became serious. - Suppose it's a bit pathetic, but personally, this is a very important indicator of the fact that I do need me. Or will cope without me? - It adds a little more thought. - If not, I have yet to come up with something else, I will now read a lecture to students.