The upcoming purchase by the Russian government of a controlling stake in Sberbank may change the status of President and Chairman of the Board of Sberbank German Oskarovich Gref
Sprouts of freedom in a single Gref
Sberbank President German Gref is not afraid of publicity. Moreover, he is a regular in all kinds of economic, strategic and innovative forums, congresses and meetings. He often meets with young people, talks a lot and eagerly about plans for his upcoming work, about corporate culture, about education and work with staff, about universal values.
The confidence and independence of German Gref is understandable. Firstly, he heads the largest state-owned bank with more than 281,000 employees, serving more than 96 million private and over 2.6 million corporate customers, bringing in more than 845 billion rubles of net profit in 2019.
Secondly, German Oskarovich himself is not a poor man. According to Forbes, from 2013 to 2016, he was one of the three, then the five of the most expensive top managers in Russia with an annual salary of 11 to 16 million dollars.
Thirdly, since Sberbank is a joint-stock company, the employer of German Gref is shareholders, he is the one who submits to them in the first place. Gref also indirectly depends on the Central Bank as a key shareholder with 50% plus 1 voting share. Although at times it seems that Sberbank is a national treasure, in reality 45% of its shareholders are non-residents (either legal entities registered abroad or individuals living in Russia less than 183 days a year). The Central Bank of the Russian Federation is quite independent from the Government of the Russian Federation, Sberbank is quite independent from the Central Bank, so German Gref has virtually no “bureaucratic blood,” that is, he can act without regard to general attitudes.
No wonder that in an interview with TASS correspondent Andrei Vandenko on the eve of the upcoming 55th anniversary, the president of Sberbank opened up: “As practice has shown, I’m definitely not an official, let alone a politician, but I feel at ease in business. I like it much more than anything else. ”
The fact that even the head of state treats German Gref as a businessman is illustrated, for example, by his invitation, among almost three dozen Russian businessmen from the Forbes list, to participate in the creation of the Sirius Center for Gifted Children in Sochi. By agreement, each of those present was to donate from 1 to 10 million dollars.
So, German Gref is a businessman, and he likes it. The upcoming acquisition of a controlling stake in Sberbank by the government will bring Gref closer to the official position, since the intermediate link represented by the Central Bank, the buffer between Sberbank and the Russian government, will disappear. Change of ownership threatens not only with legal changes. Still, the Central Bank is mentally closer to the ambitious plans of German Gref. Will observers from the Russian government allow in the future to continue the strategy outlined by Sberbank, in particular to complete the creation of the Sberbank ecosystem? Indeed, very soon, according to Gref himself, Sberbank could step over the concept of “bank”. The fact that Sberbank will turn from a credit institution into a Financial-Economic-Construction-IT-House-Life-Structure with elements of an educational and medical institution does not inspire everyone.
Bridge builder to the future
German Oskarovich threatened to leave the bank in the event of a change of concept with a new key shareholder. And at the moment, again, it behaves like a real businessman - managing the country's largest cash flow, it creates for itself ways of retreat and groundwork for the future.
We will not judge the head of Sberbank strictly. The word "trust" in the banking business has a special color. German Gref himself, apparently, wants such sentimentality in evaluating a partner to be minimized, so the top manager of Sberbank is passionate about the ideas of digitalization and biometrics.
Shared interest in refineries
More recently, the trust was placed in the same Dmitry Mazurov, who created the Antipinsky Oil Refinery from scratch. The amount of loans allocated by Sberbank, totaling more than $ 2.9 billion, on the one hand, helped Mazurov fulfill his dream - to create "the only oil refinery on an industrial scale built without reliance on assets and the legacy of the Soviet past, investing large-scale funds in the implementation of deep processing processes." On the other hand, it helped Sberbank transfer the flagship of the processing industry of the Tyumen region, the Antipinsky Oil Refinery, which became the laureate of the competitions “100 Best Goods of Russia” and “Best Goods and Services of the Tyumen Region” in 2019, in good hands. The award ceremony took place on December 11 in the regional government.
And on December 30, 2019, the plant was declared bankrupt in a lawsuit by the new management of the Antipinsky Oil Refinery (RBC reported that since November 2018 the enterprise has been managed by the management of Sberbank, the plant’s main creditor).
German Gref personally appealed to law enforcement agencies to institute criminal proceedings against Dmitry Mazurov, depriving him of the opportunity to withstand sudden changes.
Something similar happened at the beginning of 2019 with the Afipsky refinery in the Krasnodar Territory. The future was beautiful and cloudless. Forbes wrote: “At the end of April 2018, despite the rain, hundreds of people gathered near the Afipsky refinery - the enterprise turned 55 years old. The officials congratulated the factory workers and thanked its shareholders for the gift - the walk of fame along which 55 oaks were planted. ”
In the story with oil refineries, German Gref proved himself as a capable official, who, by the way, managed to help the Afipsky refinery in 2019 with a reverse excise tax on oil as a subsidy; and as a successful politician; and as a perspicacious businessman, able to predict the prospects of investments.
I would like to wish that German Oskarovich’s plans for Sberbank come true, that he works for the benefit of the Russian banking system for a long time and fruitfully. Well, if the new shareholder does not support the concept, do not worry - German Gref did everything to be on hand in any situation.