Economic Forum Attracts International High Flyers
Published: June 20, 2013 (Issue # 1764)
Ekaterina Kuzmina / Vedomosti
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is the city’s premier business event.
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum begins today and will continue through Saturday, hosting more than 3,700 businessmen, officials and reporters. This year, an impressive number of Russian and foreign businessmen, many of them considered celebrities in their field, will be discussing various topics including the prospect of a new global economy — this year’s major theme.
Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address the forum, marking the start of the event. Putin has invited Merkel, along with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, to the forum as distinguished guests.
Included among the forum’s famous Russian attendees are: Aleksei Miller, the president of Russia’s energy giant Gazprom; German Gref, president of Sberbank; Vagit Alikperov, head of LUKoil, one of the world’s biggest oil companies; Andrei Kostin, chairman of major Russian bank VTB, as well as a number of Russian government officials.
The list of expected foreign VIP participants is no less impressive, including: WTO Director-General, Pascal Lamy; CEO of Chevron Corporation, John Watson (USA); CEO of Societe Generale Group, Frederic Oudea (France); CEO of Siemens AG, Peter Loscher (Germany); CEO of Visa Inc., Charles W. Scharf (USA) and CEO of Ericsson, Hans Vestberg (Sweden), the forum website said.
As well as attending the event, some of these guests will also play a role in the forum. Lamy, for instance, is to act as a panelist at the discussion on “Regional Economic Communities: Integration to Compete and Pathway to Inclusive Globalization.” For the discussion labeled “Managing the Future of Finance,” Spencer Lake, co-head of Global Markets for HSBC Holdings, and Anton Siluanov, Russian Minister of Finance, will act as panelists while former Russian Minister of Finance, Aleksei Kudrin, is a front row participant. Kudrin was one of the most successful and long-term ministers in the Russian government, but left after being asked to resign by then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in 2011.
Another high profile guest to the forum’s business program is Oleg Deripaska, CEO of UC RUSAL. Deripaska is to take part as a panelist in four sessions of the program. Initially, it was planned that Deripaska would speak alongside former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair. However, Blair is now not attending the forum and Deripaska will speak alone at a discussion titled “The World 2020: The Case For Optimism,” reported Fontanka.ru.
Pavel Durov, the founder of popular Russian social network, VKontakte, and a high profile businessman in his own right, is also on the list of forum participants. For much of the media, it will probably be the only chance to meet Durov, who is known to avoid reporters and to never give interviews. Current interest in Durov is particularly high after his involvement in a recent incident, in which he knocked over a traffic officer while driving his car and failed to stop, instead fleeing the scene. In the end, Durov was cleared of criminal charges and fined 1,000 rubles ($31).
Russian opposition oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who ran for the Russian presidency during the last election, will also be at the forum along with his sister Irina Prokhorova, editor-in-chief of Novoe Literaturnoye Obozreniye and co-founder of the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation. Prokhorova, who has won plenty of respect for her intellect and open-minded views, will take part in several charity events. Meanwhile, Prokhorov, who recently pulled out of the Moscow mayoral race, will, as usual, host a party at the end of the forum’s business program.
Renowned St. Petersburg businessman, Mikhail Mirilashvili, president of Petro Mir LLC, is also expected to attend the forum this year. Mirilashvili, who once owned a casino and has served jail time for kidnapping, is known as a successful businessman, is a member of the presidium of the Russian Jewish Congress and is a generous donor to charity. He will host a reception at the Olympia club, housed in a former mansion on Liteiny Prospekt on June 21, Fontanka.ru reported. The guest list includes the mayor of Tel Aviv, members of the St. Petersburg government and deputies from the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly.
On the same day, St. Petersburg Governor, Georgy Poltavchenko, is also giving an official reception on the city’s Yelagin Island. He will host a jazz party with a performance by well-known Russian jazz musician, Igor Butman. Oleg Deripaska and his En+ company will also host a cocktail party on the terrace of the W Hotel that evening, Fontanka.ru reported.
Gazprombank, Sberbank and Vnesheconombank are all hosting their annual parties during the forum as well. Gazprombank and the Hermitage Museum will host a musical evening on June 20. German Gref is also scheduled to give a reception at the Mariinsky Theater on the same day. The Sberbank event has become one of the most popular at the forum, Fontanka.ru reported.