Fastest ever Porsche 911 to launch in Moscow
The latest 911 and most exclusive Porsche 911will have its global debut at the Moscow auto show on August 25th, 2010 in Crocus Expo.
The Porsche 911 GT2 RS is the fastest and most powerful road-going sports car ever built in the history of Porsche. The car is packed with the ideal ingredients for an ultra-high-performance sports car with supreme agility and truly blistering performance on the road. Perfectly illustrating Porsche Intelligent Performance, the 2011 GT2 RS achieves a reduction of approximately 5 percent for both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions when compared with the previous 911 GT2. With horsepower (hp) up by 90 and weight down by 154 lbs (70 kilograms) in comparison with the previous 911 GT2, the new 911 GT2 RS has a power-to-weight ratio of just 4.9 lbs (2.21 kg) per horsepower, by far the best power/weight ratio in its class
The 3.6 liter six-cylinder boxer engine features two variable turbine geometry turbochargers and provides power to the rear wheels exclusively through a six-speed manual gearbox. Equally impressive stopping power comes from Porsche Composite Ceramic Brakes (PCCB).
New tires were specifically developed for the 911 GT2 RS and measure 245/35 ZR 19 at the front and 325/30 ZR 19 at the rear, delivering cornering performance to match the straight-line speed. Extreme cornering dynamics are ensured by the setup of the springs, Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM), unique anti-roll bars, specific engine mounts and recalibrated Porsche Stability Management (PSM), whose stability and traction control functions can be switched off individually.
The combined effect of these developments is evident on the racetrack. In fact, the ultimate 911 accelerates from 0-60 in 3.4 seconds, boasts a top-track speed of 205 mph and laps the famed Nurburgring-Nordschleife racetrack in just 7 minutes and 18 seconds.
Unique Looks, Limited Production, Worldwide Appeal
In its looks, the new 911 GT2 RS stands out clearly from the other 911 models through the lavish use of carbon-fiber-reinforced components with a matt-black surface finish, even wider wheels (including flared wheel arches at the front), new light-alloy wheels with central locking and "GT2 RS" model designations on the doors and rear lid. Matte-finish carbon also graces the redesigned front spoiler lip and the 3/8th of an inch (10 mm) taller rear spoiler lip - which both enhances aerodynamics and provides extra downforce.
The interior of the 911 GT2 RS also exudes sporting performance in virtually every detail. Lightweight two-piece bucket seats made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic are standard, as are lightweight door panels with fabric straps instead of traditional door handles. The basic interior color is black, which contrasts with red elements, such as the seat center sections, the roof lining and segments of the steering wheel rim. The gearshift and handbrake lever are also finished in red alcantara.
Limited to just 500 units worldwide, the 911 GT2 RS will have a MSRP of $245,000.
Moscow restaurants drying up
by Oleg Nikishenkov
Moscow could be set for a taste of prohibition as a conflict between the city government and fire inspectors appears headed for deadlock, potentially paralysing the drinks industry.
The City Duma has appealed to the prosecutor general to intervene after deputy Alexander Semennikov called a session on the issue, telling The Moscow News the situation "smelt of a dry law" and was a "stalemate".
The crisis kicked off on April 8 when Moscow's license registry department stopped accepting applications to obtain alcohol licenses. City Hall explained that this was due to a conflict with the Emergency Situations Ministry's fire inspectors, who had refused to issue fire safety certificates, a requirement to get permission to sell alcohol.
The city government has issued 15,000 licenses to retailers and restaurateurs, most of them having a maximum duration of five years, while the city's head of consumer affairs, Vladimir Malyshkov, said they had "completely stopped issuing new ones".
"[The situation is] very alarming for the industry and may lead to a collapse of retail alcohol distribution [if it is not resolved soon]," said Malyshkov.
Alcohol manufacturers and traders faced a similar crisis in 2006 when the implementation of a new regulations caused confusion, and the Union of Alcohol Market Participants estimated that the industry lost $230 million.
Helping small businesses?
The emergency ministry's inspections department said it was simply following federal government instructions to stop inspections to reduce the burden on small businesses.
"To reduce the number of inspections of small and medium-sized businesses, the [country's] chief fire inspector, Gennady Kirillov, [ordered] the termination of supervisory activities of enterprises ... engaged in the retail sale of alcoholic beverages," said Yury Deshevy, the head of the inspections department.
While the city government says the emergencies ministry is shunning its responsibilities, Malyshkov, the City Hall official, says he does not want the burden either.
"[City Hall] doesn't have either qualified or authorised specialists to do fire inspections on sites and issue fire safety certificates," he said.
Malyshkov said that businesses were required to submit 12 documents to get a liquor license, and if even one was missing the city would not issue it.
Deshevy pointed to the contradiction between the federal authorities' decision to halt inspections of stores by his ministry, while regional and city administrations still require these safety checks. The fire officer appealed to City Hall to change local legislation.
Perm nightclub tragedy
Following the deaths of 156 people in a nightclub fire in Perm, fire inspectors have come under intense pressure to ensure the safety of the public.
"We might agree on cancelling fire certificate requirements for warehouses, but never for public places such as clubs, restaurants or stores," said Malyshkov.
In the first quarter of 2010, the emergencies ministry's fire inspectors filed 770 cases against clubs and restaurants in the Central Federal District, of which Moscow is a part, over fire safety violations.
Experts say that this could be part of government plans to clean up and consolidate the alcohol industry, making it simpler to obtain an alcohol license but remaining in control through subsequent inspections.
"There are too many [alcohol producers and distributors]," said Vadim Drobiz, the director of the Research Centre on the Federal and Regional Alcohol Market. "Currently, the liquor industry is only working at 30 per cent [capacity]."
The government has already started introducing tougher alcohol laws including minimum prices for vodka and banning kiosks selling strong alcohol and shops selling it late at night.
This "allowed the share of legal vodka to increase by 10 per cent," said Drobiz.
President Dmitry Medvedev has campaigned to decrease the consumption of alcohol from 18 litres a year to 8 litres by 2020.
"Eight litres of pure alcohol a year is a World Health Organisation safety threshold," said Yury Gusev, head of Preodoleniye (Overcome), a programme for treating alcohol and drug addicts. "Alcohol is the main reason for the high mortality rate of the Russian workforce, which is five times higher for men compared to Western Europe."
Russians are drinking themselves to death, with one survey finding that alcohol was the cause of 59 per cent of fatalities in men and 33 per cent in women who died between the ages of 15 and 54.
The survey, conducted by Oxford University and the Russian Cancer Research Centre, found that most of the deaths were the result of alcohol poisoning, accidents, violence or diseases such as liver failure, TB, pancreatitis and pneumonia. The researchers checked official records and asked the families of 30,000 dead men and 20,000 dead women in the cities of Tomsk, Barnaul and Biysk.
"If current Russian death rates continue, then about 5 per cent of all young women and 25 per cent of all young men will die before age 55 years from the direct or indirect effects of drinking," Professor Sir Richard Peto of the Clinical Trial Service Unit at the University of Oxford wrote in the report.
This article originally appeared on the Moscow Center of Economic Planning's web site http://english.ecoplan.ru/
50% increase in demand for elite housing in Moscow
By Marina Morozova
Head of Property Department, IntermarkSavills
Throughout the course of April 2010 demand for elite rental property increased by 59% in comparison with the average index for Q1 of the current year and corresponds with the results recorded in April 2009. Growth of prospective tenant activity and an increase in the number of concluded lettings is typical for this period as many clients wish to conclude their rental searches ahead of the holidays in May and the commencement of the summer season.
Throughout the course of April the average rental rate requested by potential tenants increased by 12%, in comparison with March, and approached pre-crisis levels reaching $6,460 per month (in March 2010 the average tenant budget was recorded as $5,770 per apartment per month). In April 2010 demand for the most expensive properties (from $10,000 and upwards per month) increased by 8% in comparison with the results recorded in the previous month.
The supply of available rental properties in the elite sector of the market decreased by 5% compared to the figures recorded in March 2010. The number of apartments in the budget range of up to $4,000 fell by 3% due to their moving to higher pricesegments. The share of properties at the upper pricing level (from $15,000 per apartment per month) remained at the level of the previous months – approximately 4%.
At the end of April the average marketed rental price (requested by potential landlords) was not subject to a significant change and was recorded as $5,900 per apartment per month.
In spite of the increase in potential tenants’ activity recorded in April of the current year, it is too early to announce a stable increase in tenant demand going forward. The elite rental market continues to offer relative stability and as a result, landlords of apartments which are in low demand or which had been initially overpriced, should either be prepared to agree to discounted offers, or choose to wait for “their” client rather than count on extremely high demand or abrupt price growth.
ACCELERATING GROWTH DRIVERS
High oil, China demand. The equity-market outlook continues to be very favorable. Oil is trading significantly above the level assumed in the budget, investors are rebuilding Russia exposure, Chinese demand is boosting metals & mineral prices, and assets are inexpensive. Our year-end RTS target gives 28% upside, and the market is on course to regain its record May 2008 high (60% upside) by mid-2011.
When to switch drivers. The best-performing themes in 2010 thus far have been those exposed to Chinese commodity demand and industries involved in restructuring. Oil & gas has lagged badly, as have many domestic themes. The issue for investors is when to switch from global to domestic themes (certainly by the middle of this year on current evidence).
This is the lead to the April 16th Equity Strategy report from Uralsib Bank. The full report is available at http://www.uralsibcap.ru/analytics/strategy.do
The Real Challenge Facing US-Russia Relations
By Gordon M. Hahn
The impending signing of a new nuclear arms agreement in April is bound to be accompanied by some euphoria over an ostensible ‘reset’ in U.S.-Russian relations.
The impending signing of a new nuclear arms agreement in April is bound to be accompanied by some euphoria over an ostensible ‘reset’ in U.S.-Russian relations.
Reducing U.S.-Russia’s nuclear arsenals and preventing the creation of new ones elsewhere around the world is bound to improve the prospects for cooperation in other areas of the relationship and is an enormous plus for international security.
However, the core problem in U.S.-Russian relationship is the conflict between Russia’s preference that states along its borders are friendlier to Russia than to far-away states and America’s desire to expand its influence into Russia’s neighboring states.
What really drives Russian resistance and paranoia to that expansion means that these areas would be militarized through NATO expansion. Russia could live with the growing influence of the U.S. in the economies, cultures and political systems of its bordering states. Their economies, cultures, and political styles in most cases are more similar to, than different from, Russia’s––by virtue of historical ties. Familiarity gives Moscow a real comparative advantage.
However, NATO expansion to Russia’s borders put the West’s growing influence under a veil of suspicion in Moscow. NATO expansion undermined the U.S.-Russian relationship and West-Russia relations in three ways:
1. It paved the way for other Western security policies that incurred costs for Russia. One round of NATO expansion led to another. NATO expansion without Moscow and against its will, led to NATO’s bombing of Belgrade and the dismantling of Yugoslavia, despite international law’s support for state sovereignty and a UN resolution honoring Yugoslavia’s territorial integrity. It also led to military bases in new NATO member-states Bulgaria and Romania, Washington’s abandonment of the ABM Treaty, and plans to place components of an ABM system on the territory of NATO’s new member states. The bases in Bulgaria and Romania and, if carried through, ABM system components in Poland and Czeck Republic are violations of the NATO-Russian Founding Act that established the NATO-Russia consultative council and forbade the stationing of any NATO troops or military equipment on the territory of NATO’s new member-states.
2. NATO expansion and the subsequent changes in the West’s security architecture incurred economic costs on Moscow. Expansion to the former Warsaw Pact states meant not only that world history’s most powerful military alliance was moving towards Russia’s bordering states but that Moscow would lose all hope of maintaining access to the Eastern European arms market at a time when its defense industry was still central to its post-Soviet economy then in a deep depression. Expansion to Ukraine would have meant not only that the alliance would be on Russia’s borders but that the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine would be de-russified over time, reducing Russian cultural and economic influence, and Russia would have to build a new naval base for its Black Sea Fleet based in Ukraine’s Crimea at considerable cost.
3. NATO expansion in effect militarized the West’s democracy promotion policies, economic expansion, and even cultural activities in the post-Soviet space. For Moscow, democratization, EU policies, and even declining Russian-language use in the region came to be seen increasingly as ways of facilitating NATO’s expansion east, not as goods in and of themselves. This is why the colored revolutions were so disdained in Moscow; disdain and distrust mounted when the ostensibly democratic colored revolutions proved in most cases to be less than truly democratic and more a gateway to possible NATO membership and to access to energy resources at Moscow’s expense.
Every country wants friendly (or at least weak) neighbors, so there is no direct threat. This becomes clear if we view NATO expansion and Russia’s reaction to it through the prism of a counterfactual: How would the US respond if Russia was leading a military alliance in the Americas that was about to include new members like Canada and Mexico, with all of their security, economic, cultural importance for the US. If Russia has little or no influence in neighboring, especially Slavic countries like Ukraine, then it is clearly unable to protect its influence and interests farther afield. This is exactly why Russia had to respond with force to Georgia’s aggression against North Ossetia.
NATO expansion increases the power of countries joining it by improving their militaries’ capacity and supplementing them with the armed forces world history’s most powerful military alliance. This enhanced capacity increases the potential threat to Russia. It might also increase the real threat by encouraging antagonistic neighboring states to miscalculate by overestimating the real level of support NATO will provide in any conflict with Moscow; Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili is the best case in point.
Growing capacity and the rising threat in turn undermines Russian interests, weakening its influence in the region and forcing on Moscow greater budget expenditures on national security to compensate for its loss of buffer states and bases.
All states base their security and foreign policy calculations on the capacity of other states, especially in neighboring states, not on their intentions, which can shift over time and might not prevail in the messy policymaking process. So Washington and Brussels can repeat ad infinitum that NATO is not a threat to Russia, but a simple balance of power calculus of NATO capacity says otherwise. And they know that in Moscow.
~~~ Dr. Hahn is author of the well-received books Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007) and Russia’s Revolution From Above, 1985-2000 (Transaction Publishers, 2002) and numerous articles in academic journals and other English and Russian language media. He has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. Dr. Hahn also has been a fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Hoover Institution. He is currently a visiting professor and senior researcher for terrorism research and education program at Monterey Institute of International Studies. This commentary originally appeared on Russia Other Points of View http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/
Dr. Hahn is author of the well-received books Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007) and Russia’s Revolution From Above, 1985-2000 (Transaction Publishers, 2002) and numerous articles in academic journals and other English and Russian language media. He has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. Dr. Hahn also has been a fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Hoover Institution. He is currently a visiting professor and senior researcher for terrorism research and education program at Monterey Institute of International Studies.
This commentary originally appeared on Russia Other Points of View http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/
Russia eases rules on key foreigners
By Anna Sulimina
Russia is set to lure more talented managers to the country by reducing red tape for foreign experts who earn over 2 million roubles ($65,000) per year and offering them tax concessions.
From January 2011, qualified specialists will be granted work permits within 14 days of a written request of the employer - and bypassing the quota set by the Federal Migration Service - if the bill is passed on its second reading in the Duma on Friday.
This procedure currently requires companies employing foreigners to apply from 12 to 23 months beforehand.
Together with a work permit of up to three years, experts and their families will gain permanent residency in Russia and will pay the flat rate 13 per cent tax from the start, instead of paying 30 per cent for any year in which they are in the country less than six months.
"This could radically change the bulky process of recruiting foreigners and make Russian companies more flexible hiring expats," said Irina Kurganova of the Manpower
recruitment agency. "I suppose big international players may totally reform their HR-policy from now on [and it] will also be handy for local companies aiming to work abroad."
Help for Skolkovo
The Skolkovo high-tech business centre will be one of the main destinations for foreign specialists who will be given the special visa status. Other big companies employing top managers are also keen on the changes, but say it won't influence them very much.
"All steps that remove red-tape obstacles are good for us," said Nikolai Gorelov, a spokesman for TNK-BP. "However the company has a well-organised system of hiring and replacing top managers and takes time anyway to hire a top-position expat."
TNK-BP became embroiled in a visa battle in 2008 when many of their top managers were refused entry in what many claimed was a struggle for control of the company between Russian shareholders and BP. Russian companies have also praised the new laws, saying it makes it easier for them to employ experienced foreigners.
"We welcome any changes in the law that will ease the hiring of foreigners for us," said Russian telecoms operator Vimpelcom, which employs 13 foreign top managers.
Nick Rees of recruitment agency Star Search said it would make life easier for foreigners and Russians and that the new rules could encourage greater international investment into Russia if they are put into practice.
"Russia is known for its red-tape but [as it is] bouncing back from the economic crisis faster than most major countries, now would be a great time to take advantage of the huge talent pool abroad," said Rees. "In just a few years, these people will be replaced by local staff, so it's a win-win situation."
It may primarily help specialists and technical experts most, as present quota limits hit top managers less, but recruitment experts say that there is still more to be done.
"Hiring foreigners is full of silly barriers. Today there are about 10,000-15,000 foreign specialists in Russia and they should be 10 times more. This would become reality if it wasn't so expensive for Russian employers," said Yury Virovets, president of Headhunter in Russia. "However the salary rate of 2 million roubles should be halved to make the law work."
Others claim that only big companies and those in top positions will benefit, while many businesses will continue to find ways to get the staff they need.
"All the big companies whose top managers earn this sort of money do not have any problems with quotas and paperwork, as they have whole departments to sort it out and apply in advance," said a visa expert, who asked not to be named.
International electronics producer Philips has also faced problems, with one top official moving to the CIS branch denied for "lacking qualifications".
According to a survey carried out by international recruitment web site The Network at the beginning of the year, Russia rates 32nd out of 35 countries where people want to work.
Originally published on http://english.ecoplan.ru
What makes Russia's jihadists so dangerous?
Alfa-Bank announces results
In the reporting period Alfa-Bank Russia recorded a reduction of its total assets of 20.0% from USD 27.1 billion at the end of 2008 to USD 21.6 billion reflecting the results of the difficult economic environment of the past year. At the same time, total equity increased by 25.6% to USD 2.7 billion (2008 — USD 2.2 billion), following a capital increase of USD 320 million in June 2009 and good organic profit generation during the year. Total comprehensive income increased significantly from USD 42 million at the end of 2008 to USD 216 million at the end of 2009 mostly due to strong results in the investment banking business, which were partially offset by the effects of lower total net interest income resulting from a reduced credit portfolio, combined with Alfa-Bank Russia's conservative provisioning policy.
MDM Bank in profit
Russia's privately owned MDM bank saw net profit nosedive 84 percent in 2009 but managed to remain in the black thanks to a strong fourth quarter when it was able to start reducing loan loss provisions. MDM bank reported a net profit of 358 million roubles ($12.20 million) for the full year versus 2.18 billion roubles in 2008. But its net income rose almost five-fold to 3.8 billion roubles in the fourth quarter from the third quarter, recovering losses the bank posted for January-September 2009.