Lost the forum: who will suffer losses from the cancellation of the SPIEF due to the coronavirus
10 minutes 29 seconds
As Izvestia found out, Roscongress warned the main exhibitors about the risk of disruption of the event a month ago. State-owned companies and regions will not feel any special financial losses from the cancellation of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in 2020. All the deals that were planned to be concluded on its site will be signed privately, its participants told Izvestia. According to them, Roscongress warned the main exhibitors more than a month ago about the risk of cancellation of the SPIEF due to the coronavirus epidemic. At the same time, companies engaged in the construction of exhibition stands will definitely suffer losses. They will not count at least 3 billion rubles, estimated in one of these firms.
The virus has crippled the forum
For the first time since the foundation of the SPIEF — 1997 — the forum was canceled. In June 2020, it will not take place due to the threat of a coronavirus epidemic, a representative of First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov told reporters. The press service of Roscongress did not promptly respond to Izvestia's questions about the cancellation of the forum.
SPIEF is the main business platform in Russia. Every year it is visited by tens of thousands of participants from different countries.
At the same time, one of the large companies participating in the forum told Izvestia that Roscongress had already warned the main exhibitors about the risk of cancellation of the SPIEF more than a month ago. Therefore, the big players were in no hurry to make payments, and they are unlikely to suffer serious losses.
Other annual guests of the event also told Izvestia that the forum participants are not in danger of a financial blow. The chairman of the Board of Directors of AFK Sistema, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, said that the SPIEF is "not about business ties, but first of all about the party and the image."
According to Alexey Voilukov, deputy head of the Association of banks "Russia", transactions on forums are not concluded spontaneously, but are prepared in advance. At the event, an agreement is only signed at the final stage. They will not be disrupted — they can be concluded remotely. Some companies will coincide the transaction with another date, someone will postpone it by agreement of the parties to a later time on another site, Alexey Voylukov believes. The same opinion is shared by the head of the "Support of Russia" Alexander Kalinin. Anatoly Aksakov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on the financial market, complained that business would lose the opportunity to communicate on the sidelines.
At the same time, the blow from the cancellation of the SPIEF will definitely fall on the developers of the stands. They will lose at least several billion rubles, said Ivan Nikolsky, managing Partner of the exhibition marketing agency Exponic.
— The area of the Expoforum, where the SPIEF takes place, is 45 thousand sq. m. The cost of building 1 sq. m. m — at least 70 thousand rubles. Thus, companies producing exhibition stands will lose at least 3.1 billion from the cancellation of the forum— he calculated.
According to Ivan Nikolsky, traditionally, the companies participating in the forum pay off the developers of the stands 30-60 days after the event. At the same time, many tenders for the organization of exhibition stands have already taken place, and developers have started purchasing equipment. These costs, most likely, will not be compensated, he concluded.
Waiting for the peak
In the Federation Council, the decision to cancel the SPIEF this year was regarded as balanced. They noted that such a step would not affect the position of the Russian Federation in the international arena.
— So far, no one can understand how the situation is developing. But preparations for the forum are already underway — large funds are being invested, the arrival of delegations is being coordinated, and canceling the event at the last moment would be fraught with even greater losses—" Vladimir Jabarov, first Deputy head of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, told Izvestia.
The senator recalled that strict quarantine measures in China have paid off, and there have been many eases in Europe, and now the virus is being transferred from country to country.
The authorities of St. Petersburg supported the cancellation of the forum in order not to endanger its numerous guests and participants, Smolny said.
But not everyone in the legislative assembly of the city agrees with this step. Alexander Egorov, Deputy Chairman of the Commission on Social Policy and Healthcare, believes that the decision not to hold the SPIEF was made prematurely.
— The number of cases in China and South Korea is decreasing. If we analyze all the data, then the situation with the spread of COVID-19 is the same as with ordinary acute respiratory infections or influenza. Therefore, I am sure that by April we will pass all the peaks, as it was with other types of coronavirus—" Alexander Egorov told Izvestia.
Boris Mendelevich, a member of the State Duma Committee on Healthcare, on the contrary, suggests that the maximum increase in morbidity in Russia will occur in mid-April.
— In China, the epidemic reached its peak in one and a half to two months after its onset. Perhaps we have at least another month before the peak," the deputy explained.
SPIEF participants told Izvestia that they were upset by the cancellation of the forum, but agreed with this decision and would not suffer losses.
— The preparation was underway, but we didn't have time to spend the money. The news is not pleasant, but it is not necessary to make a catastrophe out of it. We will look for other formats of work, nothing prevents us from contacting business representatives now," said Anton Alikhanov, Governor of the Kaliningrad Region.
There will be no carnival
SPIEF traditionally offered an extensive cultural program. So, in 2019, the forum guests could attend a night concert at the Mariinsky Theater with the participation of Valery Gergiev and Denis Matsuev, and connoisseurs of more democratic formats gathered on Palace Square, where the festival "From classics to Rock" was held. It was opened by opera stars Andrea Bocelli and Aida Garifullina, and "Bi-2" was played accompanied by a symphony orchestra.
In addition to public events, the forum also hosts many private or at least more intimate parties, which are organized by large participating companies. And often the list of stars there is no less, or even more impressive than on mass venues. For example, last year the business elite could listen to Leningrad, Mummies of Troll, Basta and Valery Meladze.
This year Ilya Lagutenko was going to the Northern capital again — he had to perform at a party of a large bank. In addition, the city expected a five-hour music marathon from the residents of the Burning Man festival. The organizers kept the name of the headliner a secret, but, apparently, now we won't even know who we could have heard if everything had gone according to plan.
The concert of the Italian opera house "Petruzzelli" will not take place either. Antonio Fallico, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Banca Intesa and President of the association "Cognize Eurasia", told Izvestia about this.
— It is a pity that it was decided not to hold the SPIEF in 2020 for sanitary reasons. For its part, the association "Cognize Eurasia", as every year, has already prepared its part of the program for this key event — two Russian-Italian sessions on small business and on cooperation between large companies from Russia and Italy," Antonio Fallico complained. — We were preparing a concert of the Italian opera house "Petruzzelli" from Bari for the cultural program of the forum, an Italian cuisine restaurant for SPIEF guests with a famous chef with Michelin stars from the Puglia region, the arrival of a large delegation of Italian entrepreneurs, a delegation from Puglia headed by the governor ... SPIEF remains the most important forum for dialogue between politicians and business circles around the world, we will prepare to actively participate in its work in 2021.
In response to a request from Izvestia, the Ministry of Culture of Russia stressed that it does not affect the preparation of the forum's program, this is the prerogative of its organizers.