Redistribution of business
There are also beneficiaries in areas with only indirect connections to the war. Businessmen profit from getting
the property of Western companies leaving Russia on the cheap. Here, it needs to be said, the Russian government assisted
them: at the end of 2022, a rule was approved that foreign companies could sell their business in Russia only at a discount of 50% or more, with installment payments over 1-2 years. And in March of this year, a requirement was added that companies had to pay money to the budget for leaving Russia: at least 5% of the market value of the assets, while if the discount was 90%, the amount would increase to 10%.
Some companies have sold assets to their own management. At the beginning of the war, sales with a buyback option were common – McDonald’s
did that, for example, when it sold its Russian business to one of the franchisees for a symbolic sum, as he himself acknowledged. In the second year of the war, hopes for a comeback seem to have disappeared, and foreign companies are simply selling off their assets – for as much as they can. Meanwhile, the buyers are often completely unknown companies, often created literally before the deal.
The story of the sale of IKEA’s production assets
in Russia is telling: the large forest products producer Segezha and Sistema holding, both belonging to the oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov, fought for them, but they went to companies called Slotex and Luzales – for many, never before heard of. Who is behind them is still unknown.
Another 2,000 companies are waiting
their turn to leave Russia, and given the slowness of the government commission considering their applications, it is hard to imagine how long they might have to wait. But it is not hard to imagine (of course, purely hypothetically) what things some especially impatient companies might do to ensure that their application gets to the front of the line.
Those dealing with parallel imports – in other words, legalized smuggling – are making money (see Nikolai Petrov’s article
in Russia.Post about the customs service), with state-connected importers of semiconductors
for missiles being launched on Ukraine, along with small businessmen who import spare parts for foreign cars and Western brands, minting money.
Producers dealing in import-substituting products also feel great: some, taking advantage of the situation, just like the subsidies and benefits from the state, while others really produce things similar to what has left the Russian market due to sanctions – usually of worse quality and at higher prices (see Nikolai Kulbaka’s article
It is no coincidence that, according to the Central Bank, “income from business activities” has jumped
in the structure of household income. “Now it’s real haymaking – just make sure to reap the money,” a businessman happily shared with me. He is involved in a relatively respectable area: helping people fleeing the war and the mobilization to emigrate.
The war is also driving a redistribution of business within Russia. For example, in the Russian segment of Telegram, there was a sudden wave of arrests
of channel authors, including those affiliated with Ksenia Sobchak, on the same grounds: allegedly, they extorted money from the management of Rostec and Sergei Chemezov. Note that Telegram and YouTube are the last media platforms in Russia that have not yet been banned or monopolized by the state.The elite of the war
New opportunities have appeared not only for businesspeople – the labor market is also hot. Yandex, which has always been considered a “dream job,” is now looking
for workers through employment websites, offering remote work.