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Patience carries the day in Russian markets

Finnish companies have shown increasing interest in projects in, and related to, Russia


During the past winter, Finnish companies have shown increasing interest in projects in, and related to, Russia. Some Finnish companies have already accumulated experiences in Russian trade over a longer period of time, and some have even become great success stories. This, and many other interesting facts, are revealed in a report entitled Suuri maa, pitkä kvartaali (Large Country, Long Quarterly), edited by Timo Mäkinen for Sitra. The report is based on interviews with company leaders. – In St Petersburg, for example, Hlebnyi Dom, a bakery owned by Fazer, makes every third loaf of bread sold in the city, and the YIT owner-occupied housing production is about to reach the level of that in Finland, Tapani Mäkinen says. But from the very beginning the Swedish-Finnish Baltic Beverages Holding has been in a league of its own: 36% of all the beer consumed in Russia is produced by BBH. It has become the ninth biggest brewery in the world, and its flagship facility, the St Petersburg-based Baltika, is the largest in Europe. With the success of BBH, the Finnish owner family Hartwall became one of the leading European brewery owners. – BBH is now in the process of consolidating its operations under Baltika. This requires corporate restructuring, which would be a great challenge in any country, including the developed market economies, said Christian Ramm-Schmidt, President of BBH, who attended the launch of the report. Other companies included in the report have also gained experience of the Russian judicial system. Olli Pohjanvirta, the General Director of ETL Law Offices in Russia, has a lot of experience of Russian trials and has faith in the system. – Naturally you must do your homework. You have to be very meticulous when running a business in Russia. You have to have good grounds for a case, and when you have them, there is every reason to expect to receive justice in Russia, Pohjanvirta said, when interviewed for the report. Ultimately, the key to success is persistence. Many of the companies profiled in the report have been through several crises that have rocked Russian society, but they have remained in the country. Their perseverance and patience have eventually borne fruit, and now, when others are only accessing the market, they have an established position in it and lots of valuable experience, from which the newcomers can learn. The expanding Russian market offers new opportunities for the Finnish economy. Sitra launched its Russia Programme in spring 2005, which aims at creating a broad framework for co-operation between the Russian and Finnish economies. The purpose of this report, published by Sitra, is to offer Finnish entrepreneurs first-hand knowledge about operating in Russia. As an economics journalist, Tapani Mäkinen has a special vantage point over the Finnish business community and he has also followed the development of the Russian economy with keen interest. Further information On the report: Tapani Mäkinen, journalist, tel. +358 9 507 8557 Kari Tolvanen, Vice-President of Sitra, tel. +358 9 6189 9270 On Sitra’s Russia Programme: Maaret Heiskari, Programme Director, tel. +358 9 6189 9467 Publication Suuri maa, pitkä kvartaali. Suomalaisyritysten kokemuksia Venäjän kehittyvästä kapitalismista. (Large country, long quarterly. Experiences of Finnish companies on the developing capitalism of Russia), Tapani Mäkinen (ed.) Sitra Reports 48 ISBN 951-37-4417-5, ISSN 1457-571X. Edita Prima Oy. Helsinki 2005. The report can be ordered from Sitra, email: It is also available in electronic format (PDF) on Sitra’s website > Julkaisut