President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Fridman, how are things going in your consortium? What’s the situation in the enterprises that belong to your group?
chairman of the Supervisory Board of Alfa Group Consortium Mikhail Fridman: I just returned from a meeting of the Board of Directors of TNK-BP. It is the largest industrial company which we are involved with.
Dmitry Medvedev: Very directly involved.
Mikhail Fridman: For all intents and purposes, I currently have the temporary honour of being in charge of the company.
In principle, the performance results are very decent. Production has increased annually by around four percent, significantly higher than the average for the country, where there has been practically no growth and even a small decline. And we expect in the coming years to bring new fields on stream, thereby seriously increasing production – by tens of percentage points.
First and foremost we have two large deposits: the Uvat field, which we put into operation recently, and the Russkoe field. In addition, we launched a major facility upgrading programme at the Saratov oil refinery.
Although of course the crisis has affected everyone, all our companies, I can absolutely assure you that TNK-BP is in principle developing according to plan.
Dmitry Medvedev: What’s the mood among your staff, I mean among those who are involved in actual production?
Mikhail Fridman: We’ve had to lay off almost no one, and since we’ve put into operation new fields, there has even been an increase in the number of people …
Dmitry Medvedev: How many people do you have working in TNK-BP?
Mikhail Fridman: About 50 thousand. TNK-BP is a large employer, taking into account families and single-industry cities.
Dmitry Medvedev: That amounts to hundreds of thousands of people.
Mikhail Fridman: Absolutely. So I think that the mood there is very good, we are in constant contact with company representatives.
Dmitry Medvedev: Is there an opportunity to engage in investment or is it still difficult?
Mikhail Fridman: In my view, if we’re talking about the oil sector, in principle the current tax system allows making effective investments.
Less so than in previous years, but it is possible to invest and develop new projects, new fields and so on. It’s a question of management. I am confident that our companies have the resources to increase efficiency.
In this respect I think TNK-BP is one of the most efficient companies. All the same it is a joint venture, and through our foreign investors, our partners in this project we have obtained access to many new technologies. I think that today our company is one of the country’s leaders in terms of effectiveness.
Dmitry Medvedev: If it’s performing well then that benefits the country, the company and the people who work there.
For a while now I have been planning to meet with the RUIE [Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs]. I promised Alexander Shokhin [RUIE President] that we would do it. So in the near future we will be arranging this meeting.
I would like you as one of the RUIE executives to analyze how the country is now moving from a crisis phase into a developmental one, which scenarios are possible. Because of course we also need to listen to proposals from our big business representatives.
I regularly meet with small business, medium business, but you have many people working in your plants, and of course I would like to know which exit strategy you think is the right one, since this has been much discussed in a number of venues, including the G20 summits.
Mikhail Fridman: We will prepare everything for you without fail. This is a very important question that cannot be resolved without your participation. So we’ll be sure to report to you with the forecasts that we have put together.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good.