Forbes publishers: Shmatko and Sechin

Left without the "western protection", Russian Forbes is rapidly degraded.
Origin source
Ex-Minister of Energy Sergei Shmatko, who headed the Ministry of Energy under the vice-premier Igor Sechin, was involved with the business of the publisher of the Russian version of Forbes magazine.

In recent months, the Russian edition of the world-famous Forbes magazine itself constantly gets into the news. In March, it became known about the financial problems of the publisher, the company "As Rus Media", which is part of the holding ACMG Alexander Fedotov. Funds in the bank accounts of "As Rus Media" were frozen at the request of the tax service. The reason could be arrears of taxes, Rain told a source in the media market. As of March 28, the lock has already been removed, it follows from the online service of the Federal Tax Service "BANKINFORM". Earlier, "As Rus Media" delayed the license payment, which should transfer to American Forbes Media for the right to publish the Russian version of Forbes, Vedomosti reported citing its sources. The source of rain on the media market also knows about the problem with payments.

Even before financial difficulties, Forbes had reputational problems. In the traditional ranking of salaries of top managers, published in November last year, there was no reward for top managers of the state bank VTB. Employees of the publication in a collective letter accused Fedotov of interfering in the editorial policy: according to their information, Fedotov, who was bribed by the state bank, blocked the mention of VTB. One of the authors of this letter, the columnist Elena Zubova, through the court, demands compensation from the publisher for the wrongful dismissal. The editor-in-chief of the Russian Forbes, Nikolai Uskov, stresses: the judicial dispute with Zubova has nothing to do with the rating, and he has already given all the comments, he said. Uskov in an interview with Rain said that the decision not to publish undesirable information for VTB, he allegedly took on his own.

Change of shareholder

In 2015, when foreign publishers began selling Russian assets, fulfilling the requirements of the new law on restricting foreign ownership of the media, Forbes and Vedomosti had a particularly acute problem of maintaining an independent editorial policy when selling to a Russian investor: there are more ways to pressure the Russian publisher, Than on foreigners.

The Russian Forbes was published by the German publishing house Axel Springer under the license of American Forbes Media. By the time of the sale of Forbes, according to Medialogy, was the most quoted Russian magazine. Shortly before the sale, the audience of one number, according to TNS, reached 1.5 million people, the monthly audience of is over 3 million people.

The buyer eventually became the glossy holding of ACMG Alexander Fedotov, who had no relation to business and socio-political journalism. In the first interview as the publisher of Forbes, Fedotov said that the magazine "is a little too politicized," and the readers of the magazine are interested in politics "to a lesser extent." At the same time, Fedotov stressed: the asset was purchased at own expense, credit financing was not involved. The transaction amount, according to RBC, could amount to $ 7 million.

Forbes is not without politics

Without a policy, apparently, all the same, it could not have been directly with the purchase of Forbes: Rain found out that the active participation in the publishing business of Fedotov was taken by former Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko, who, although not listed in the owners, Assets of Fedotov.

Shmatko participated in negotiations for the purchase of Forbes with Fedotov, told Rain three sources in the media market. When the head of Axel Springer Russia, Regina von Flemming, was negotiating the sale of the publishing house with Fedotov, Shmatko attended one of the meetings, one of the interlocutors of the Rain said.

Representative of ACMG Oksana Meneylyuk Shmatko's participation in the deal denied. According to her, he did not participate in the negotiations and is not a partner of the holding. Uskov said that he did not know anything about Shmatkov's participation in the transaction, adding: "I think this is another crap." Flemming refused to comment, Shmatko ignored questions.

According to one source, Shmatko's participation is not a political issue and he did not influence editorial policy. Another person close to the holding does not agree: Forbes is not an easy asset, it is important to be able to influence it on occasion, for example, to use "telephone law" for your own benefit or for the benefit of partners.
Glossy power engineer

The publishing business of Fedotov is connected with Shmatko by many threads. It was he who helped restart the GEO, GEOlenok and GALA magazines, which, due to financial problems, were closed shortly after Fedotov's holding bought out the editions of the Axel Springer home. Shmatko Artpol Holding provided a loan to the Ji Media structure, which is part of the ACMG holding company and publishes these three magazines, told Rain about two sources close to the holding. The loan amount is estimated at 6-8 million rubles by one of the interlocutors.

Meneyluk declined to comment on this loan, citing commercial secrets. The general director of "Artpol Holding" could not promptly respond to the request, saying that he does not have the necessary authority for this.

Interest in the gloss of Shmatko exclusively business, say two sources in the media market. He prefers to have a diversified portfolio of assets, they explain. Shmatko belongs to the structure "Artpol Holding", which judging by the founding documents, is a financial holding company for asset management. She owns shares in 11 different companies, SPARK data show: their field of activity is from pharmaceuticals to real estate and construction contracts. There are no media assets among these companies.

 Longtime partner

Although formally the general assets of Fedotov and Shmatko are not, they have long-standing business ties. They are connected through Dmitry Sablin, the founder of the "Combat Brotherhood", the organization of veterans of the war in Afghanistan, as well as the creator of the pro-government movement "Anti-Maidan." Both Shmatko and Fedotov have or had stakes in companies connected with Sablin or with another person from the "Combat Brotherhood", as the Vedomosti called him Maxim Gromov. The company "Prominvest" is a joint business of Shmatko and Gromov. While Shmatko headed the Ministry of Energy, the business of Prominvest and the companies controlled by him was actively growing, Vedomosti wrote: for example, Prominvest's "daughter" did not have to invest in building a substation and connecting to networks - all this made the state instead of it.

Sablin is a neighbor of Fedotov in Zhukovka on Rublevsky highway, both of them are in the founders of the non-commercial partnership Zhukovka XXI Century, this is a cottage community in Odintsovo district.

In addition, under the management of the company Fedotov "Art Trading Portfolio Management" is a structure called "Artpol Media." Its name coincides with the names of the structures of "Artpol Holding" Shmatko, but it is written down to its CEO Lyubov Savin and, according to the constituent documents, is publishing books and brochures. Sadchikov did not answer the question, Meneyluk said that "Artpol Media" with Shmatko is not connected. What this structure does, she also refused to speak.

Sechin's guy

 Shmatko headed the Ministry of Energy in 2008-2012, when the Deputy Prime Minister for the fuel and energy complex in the government was Igor Sechin, and the head of the government - Vladimir Putin. Shmatko was always considered one of Sechin's closest associates, officials recalled: Sekhin was the one who brought him to the Ministry of Energy. They left the officials together too, Sechin headed Rosneft and became the executive secretary of the presidential commission for the fuel and energy sector, a place in it was found for Shmatko, although he did not receive a new post immediately. Only in 2013, Shmatko was appointed special representative of the President on international cooperation in the field of electricity, he holds this post until now. Similar positions were given to many former officials: for example, former head of the presidential administration Sergei Ivanov and former Minister of Education and Science Dmitry Livanov. Among themselves, officials call such appointments an "honorable pension." However, it is the position of Shmatkone that is included in the register of the posts of the state civil service, which means that the restrictions related to working for the state do not apply to it: thus, it is not obliged to declare income or take care of the conflict of interests of its position with business assets.

Sechin, as reported by the RBC agency, lobbied Shmatko's appointment to the state-owned Rosset, which was then established on the basis of FGC and IDGC Holding. As a result, in 2013, Shmatko headed its board of directors and was its chairman until July 2015, and Now remains a member of the board.

Sechin has a difficult relationship with Forbes. In 2013, Sechin filed a lawsuit against Axel Springer Rasha (then-publisher Forbes) on defending honor, dignity and business reputation: then Sechin topped the top-managers' salaries. In addition, Forbes published the material "The Last Conquistador: How Igor Sechin is fighting for oil domination." At Sechin's request, the court ordered Forbes to refute the estimate of Sechin's annual remuneration of $ 50 million, as well as quotes from sources of the magazine about how Sechin influenced the quotes of TNK-BP and that, having left the civil service, he could legally become a wealthy man. The journal failed to challenge the court's decision. True, Forbes now still publishes an estimate of Sechin's income. So, in the last published rating Sechin was in second place after the head of Gazprom Alexei Miller. Forbes estimated the income of the head of Rosneft at $ 13 million.

Fedotov himself did not respond to repeatedly asked questions about the financing of his publishing business and ties with Shmatko. In response to another request for comments, the businessman posted a post on his Facebook page with a dedication to "rainy bubbles".