The new owner of Forbes — RBC: "We will try not to go into politics"

In September 2015, the Russian Forbes changed the owner; it was Alexander Fedotov, the owner of the publishing house Artkom media. Fedotov told RBC what changes awaited Forbes and why he did not consider his media business unprofitable
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Russian Forbes, along with magazines OK, Geo, Gala and other part of the publishing house "Axel Springer Russia", owned by the German company Axel Springer. In September, the Germans announced the sale of the company Alexander Fedotov, owner and general director of the publishing house "Artkom Media" (magazines L'Officiel, Numero, SNC, Port and others). The transaction amount was not disclosed, but sources RBC familiar with the terms, saying that it was not more than $ 7 million.

Despite the fact that magazines publish Alexander Fedotov began back in 2008, the media market know little about him. In his first interview after the transaction Alexander Fedotov explained RBC why he needed the business edition of Forbes is why, in his opinion, should be less to write about politics, and told how he began to invest in the media and who was his partner in this business.

- How did you become interested in the purchase of "Axel Springer Russia"?

- I requested a review of the asset PwC. In parallel, we discussed it with Regina von Flemming [Director General of "Axel Springer Russia"] - we know her for several years, met at some secular CELEBRATIONii.

- What you are interested in this offer? You have in the portfolio have not been business media, only gloss.

- We once had no media. Yes, we did not have a business magazine, and now it appeared and complements our other projects. This is a normal development of the publishing house. We have two women's magazine of the top five. It is clear that this is the direction we will not continue to expand. We have the Port men, and they Forbes each other may well complement - two different magazines, but here and there a man.

- What will happen with the magazines Geo, Gala and OK? Will you continue to publish them?

- We do not have any requirements on the part of Axel Springer, we have to continue to publish something. At the moment, we understand with these projects. Forbes - obviously a strong brand, and it is, in my view, has to be profitable. OK - too strong international brand, but at the moment its potential is not developed fully. Geo - in France and Germany is one of the most powerful magazines. To say that with them will be, I can not now. Within two or three months, when we completely take for conTroll is a company and deal with the situation, we can work out some kind of plan.

- Deal with Axel Springer has not closed?

- From my point of view, it is closed. Now everything is signed, there were some technical issues. According to our plan, Axel Springer retires before the end of October.

- You buy the assets on their own funds or borrowed?

- On my own. This does not mean that our company does not have any units that have agreements with banks. But to buy we do not attract credit.

- When do you plan to sign a deal with Regina von Flemming, who must redeem your 20% of the new company?

- These are two different transactions, and in the conditions of the first transaction does not stipulate the conditions of the second. With Regina we are negotiating, and we have no final agreement on what we need it to sell shares. As there are no strict timing of the transaction. This can occur as the end of the year, and the beginning of the next.

I believe that Regina - a professional in the field of media, she has long worked in Russia and knows a lot of things. I think itoften we will quickly bring the project to where we want. But we still want to improve it.

- How exactly?

- While I think most of the Forbes development, because it is the largest of the editions of "Axel Springer Russia". We will not interfere in the editorial policy of Forbes, but we want it to be about the magazine business and the economy. In Russia, it's a little too politicized. We will try to write about what is interesting to our readers. I am sure that they are interested in politics, to a lesser extent.

In addition, we will develop event-direction, to spend more business events, as an American or Spanish Forbes. That is not only the «Forbes Club", but also some special events for individual industries - workshops lawyers, financial directors, training of young businesspeople. Minor changes may occur in the layout - I believe that the present layout of Forbes bit outdated. If you take the L'Officiel, the mind for it seems to be more expensive and high-quality magazine. The same should be of Forbes, we will change the layout of the paper and to add to it solidity.
r /> - You say that you will not interfere in editorial matters, and on the other hand, you would like to see in the Forbes was less politics. How you going to achieve this?

- As in any other publication I as the owner will communicate with the editor. I think that soon we will find a compromise and develop a kind of concept will reduce the politicization of the magazine. Next edition will be easy to work in the framework of this concept. Interfere with daily, I'm not going to. I do not see a problem with what I want as an owner, and the fact that we can not interfere in editorial policy.

sudden withdrawal

Axel Springer, who worked in Russia for over ten years, decided to leave the country in connection with the amendments to the media law, which a foreign company or citizen can not own more than 20% in the media. Beginning in May 2015, "Axel Springer Russia" talked with potential buyers, among which were the owner of a group of UST Gregory Berezkin, and founder of the "Troika Dialog" Ruben Vardanyan. In the end, the choice was made in favor of Alexander Fedotov. "Axel Springer Russia" alsoe announced later 20% of the assets purchase from Fedotov, the current CEO of the publishing house Regina von Flemming. Revenue "Axel Springer Russia" in 2014 -. 872 million rubles, net loss - 154.9 million rubles.

- The problem is that big business is closely intertwined with politics in Russia - you write about business and rests on the political issues.

- So, maybe it will be slightly shifted in the direction of business and economics. Neither I nor "Artkom media" do not do politics. It is understood that the business we have politicized. Still, Forbes - business media, and I think we're just going to try not to go on the political territory.

- Forbes - the influential magazine, on a lot of pay attention and in power, and in business, and, therefore, a person or a company that they own, may be under pressure, even in the form of rings. Are you ready for this?

- I do not expect some kind of pressure, and I do not know of specific examples of pressure. What are the nuances, of course, will be, but they are also in our magazines - when people are unhappy about the fact that we napisaand. If we make a mistake, we correct the error and apologize, but if we wrote that we consider it necessary, we will defend its position, including in court.

If we are talking about, and Forbes business, I do not think it would be a pressure rather about some talks, and they will deal with the CEO, not me.

- In 2014, the head of "Rosneft" Igor Sechin sued Forbes for the material, which was discussed, in particular his salary. We should be in the Forbes socially relevant materials about the salaries of government officials and managers?

- I believe that there should be materials about important events related to business and the economy, but I sincerely believe that people who read of Forbes, not interested in the salaries of officials. I talked to many businessmen.

I can not say that Forbes about it will not write - this will greatly depend on the specific history and context. But I think that writing about it optional. In Forbes interesting to read stories about how to achieve success, pro career people on whom you want to be. Rating salaries of officials there onright, maybe, but this is not interesting to readers of Forbes.

- As far as I know, Forbes Media has made the expansion and tightening of the license agreement, it clearly states that is considered censorship and interference in editorial policy. Will not the changes of which you speak, be at odds with this agreement?

- I did not sign any document that would have tightened the previous license agreement. As long as I have the same arrangement as that of the "Axel Springer". We agreed with the representatives of Forbes, that maybe it will change. Our interests in the light of the current economic situation to reduce the royalty increase revenue on their behalf. But we will discuss in the next year, when we will understand fully in the project.

- Most of the socio-political mass media in Russia belongs to the big businessmen, one way or another are close to the authorities. It is assumed that they are responsible for their own media.

- So they say. I do not know exactly.

- Do you understand that now as the owner of Forbes you get into the focus of attention? Previously you usedl only gloss that no one bothered. Do you think that your work has somehow changed?

- I think not, but we can see in some time.

- Did you discuss the deal with Axel Springer with the authorities, with someone from the presidential administration?

- I'm not familiar with them, and I think they do not know about me.

- Returning to deal with Regina von Flemming - whether it be money?

- This is confidential information. The conditions of our transactions with Regina when it is signed, you will still be known only in general terms, the financial side, we most likely will not disclose. It plans yet, and it seems to me, it is not correct to speak about the plans - they are subject to change.

- Who will stand at the head of the new company?

- We have two candidates. One of our internal structure of the "Artkom media", one without. We discuss this decision with Regina.

- The company, which will include the assets of "Axel Springer" will be operationally independent of the "Artkom media"?

- There juridichcal person who is called the "Axel Springer Russia", with its CEO, accountants, lawyers. He will remain a separate publishing house. The only thing that will change in it - this title. It will be called "AS Media". It will not in any way interfere with the "Artkom media", but it is clear that the strategy of development of all media assets will be shared.

- In the "Artkom media", as far as I know, there are delays of wages regularly. "Axel Springer Russia", on the contrary, has always been completely white and transparent company where everything is subject to strict rules. Do not be thrown if this practice of "Artkom media" there?

- Unless you have concrete evidence, it is rumors. But the fact that in the "Axel Springer" everything will remain as before, it is 100%.

- You started to engage in media business in 2008, at the height of the crisis. SNC you purchased in 2011, at the end of 2014 - L'Officiel, are now buying "Axel". This is a deliberate strategy - to buy at a low market? Or is it rather accidentally, when you appear interesting proposals?

- In terms ofI layman, it's probably a coincidence. In 2008, I was preparing to conduct the first Moscow Design Week, talking with friends, European designers. In their view, at that time in Russia it was not good design magazines. So I decided to do Objekt magazine that they have advised me, negotiated the license with the Dutch. On the one hand, it was an accident, but on the other hand, it was clear that the decline has already begun, and the crisis is sometimes possible to start a new project. Someone dies in the crisis, while others, on the contrary, develops.

In my first year at the institute told me: "We will teach you to solve any problems posed by life." We started to develop Objekt, Interni. Then he bought the SNC, to take a new position in the media market. SNC One of the advantages, if not the only one - a strong distribution. It spread almost everywhere. Due to SNC, we gained access to all Interni and Objekt, reissuing all distributional contracts "Artkom media."

No one imagined at the time that of the SNC could do something. Ksenia Sobchak [was appointed chief editor of the SNC in May 2012] raised the project, in my understanding, to alinen at the desired height to us.

- As I understand it, you do not have a relationship with the previous version, headed by Maria Lobanova.

- With Maria I had no conflict, just the magazine, which they did with Eugene Zmievtsom [the owner of the publishing group "Parlan", which included the sale of SNC to Fedotov] was not a magazine that I wanted to do. We changed the name - it is called Sex and the City. Zmievets believed that brand Sex and the City, and the word "sex" helped sales, but I was always embarrassed by the situation, when a young woman comes to the shop and said, "Give me the Sex and The City». I think Russian woman is not quite ready to say. In addition, many advertisers do not like the word "sex". We still want to do a commercial magazine.

- Is it true that in the SNC at Maria Lobanova banned you put in a room interview with Ksenia Sobchak, saying that it is a political story?

- Honestly, I do not remember. I do not think it was. Maybe it was some kind of theme interviews, which was originally built on political issues, but togasso no matter who would give him - Sobchak or someone else. When Sobchak came to the SNC, we had agreed on a new concept of the magazine, which did not provide for any policy. It is now.

- But in the SNC Sobchak did an interview with Julia Navalny made the rating of the sexiest politicians.

- We all have different understandings of what is politics and what political art. By themselves, Navalny Yashin and may well be in the SNC magazine with them, you can talk like normal people, such as women. But this is a magazine for young active women and dismantling the claims of some of our politicians during the election how many votes and who have given, we will not.

Fedotov Aleksandr Fomichev

Born April 23, 1968 in the city of Kopeisk the Chelyabinsk region. Graduated aerodynamics of the Moscow Physical-Technical Institute. In 1990 he founded the Art Trading Group, which later became part of the architectural and design company Art Trading Contract, furniture stores "Altagamma" and Arte Di Vivere, PH "Artkom media." The company annually conducts Moscow Design Week. Besides FedotovHe owns the business of renting real estate in the center of Moscow.

The publishing house "Artkom media" includes magazines on lifestyle and fashion (Numéro, Port, SNC), a magazine about golf Golf Digest, a publication design (Interni, Objekt, Exterieurs Design), as well as sites and Fedotov also owns L'Officiel (part of the publishing house "Les Editions Jalou Russie"), which is now headed by Ksenia Sobchak. According to SPARC-based revenue PH "Artkom media" in 2014 amounted to RUR 59.2 million, a net loss of -. 24.3 million rubles. Revenues ID "Les Editions Jalou Russie." - 26.9 million rubles, net loss - 5.2 million rubles. The proceeds of "Media Group» (Numero) - 37,4 million rubles loss -. 10.3 million rubles.

- Do you have a design and architectural Bureau ArtTrading Contract, Shop "Altagamma" media business. Which of your many businesses are now the most profitable?

- You understand that the publishing group turnover more than speed, for example, a furniture store. Investments here anymore, but you can not compare their profitability. These are completely different things.

- "Artkom media", according to SPARK, loss-making business, the same withUrnaliev L'Officiel and Numero.

- It is not unprofitable, it is a temporary investment. Almost all employees who come to us from the major publishing houses, confirm that it is impossible to create a media project, which is already a year will be profitable. Each media projects need time to disperse. We are all very young publishing house in Russia. So now to talk about the loss of this sense is no business. We'll see in five years.

- Okay, so you already have invested and continue to invest in the media. And in the "Axel Springer", which is also unprofitable, will invest is now. So what is your business allows you to buy and invest in the media?

- I can not comment on that. Some types of businesses that you can define, bring money. But I will not tell you now.

- When someone buys major media, particularly Forbes magazine, there is a fair question, what is this man and where he got money to buy. Especially if its main business, known to all, is an investment.

- In fact, youBehold ye say well. I started doing some types of businesses in 1992 or 1993. If the right to save, earn and grow, you can create a condition that allows to invest.

- They say that in Numero your partner was Michael Heart, Absolute former top manager of the Bank's and your old friend. Does he invest in other media projects?

- Mikhail heart really some time invested in Numero, SNC and Port, but then left. For me it is the core business, and it was a test for him, he wanted to see what it was, but I realized that it is not very interesting. He is still the financial people.

- Do some partners were who with you invested in the purchase of "Axel Springer Russia" assets?

- At the moment no.

- A planned?

- But you said yourself that there will be some pressure, some calls. You never know.

- They say that you have a joint projects with Svetakovym Alexander, chairman of the board of directors of the "Absolute" and the former owner of Absolut Bank. This is true?
- You say, no one knows me, and themselves loaded me with some contacts in the business community. With Alexander've known for 20 years At the moment we have no intersections in the business. But soon we will have a joint media project in Russia. It will not Forbes. We will not buy anything, we will launch a completely new project.

- You said in an interview that in the 1990s engaged in advertising typewriters Olivetti, and Alexander Svetakov told in turn that was selling Olivetti technology and other brands. You have been partners in this business?

- We were not partners, we were rather competitive. At Alexander at the time it was a trading house "Absolute", and I had a distribution company Art Trading. I only worked with to Olivetti, he distributes all the equipment - typewriters, computers, calculators, and "Absolute" sold a large range of goods. We then become the exclusive distributor and for the "Absolute» Olivetti was no strategic partner. But against this we met with Alexander.

- Whys continue to invest in the media business, if it is not to make money?

- A lot of things do not make money. But if I was not sure of the media business, I would not have invested. We create a platform today. By and large, it began to develop a year or two ago, when we launched Numero, and then L'Officiel. Now with Forbes purchase we can say that we have a real publishing house. We have magazines, powerful Digital department with the best, in my opinion, the iPad-version of the publication, a great experience in conducting events such as Moscow Design Week. In 2017, I think it will bring all the results.

- How much do you estimate your investment in the media business for all this time?

- This question can indirectly affect your conclusions regarding the purchase of "Axel Springer Russia", as well as I, and Axel Springer are bound not to disclose, I can not answer it.