Interview with Richard Hainsworth
Russia Today: After Kazmin's resignation whom do you see as his likely successor?
Richard Hainsworth: I think most of the commentators are looking at German Gref. Having come from being the minister for economic development and also as a free marketeer. Also the fact that Sberbank is the largest bank in Russia. It is the only liquid banking stock that is available and investable for foreign institutions. His move to Sberbank is fairly natural. That appears to be a good fit.
RT: Do you think a new Sberbank's CEO will bring about the changes in the company, its policy and how it is run?
R.H.: I think there are major opportunities for changes. When asked to remember when Kazmin took over in 1996 Sberbank was a very different animal, there was the very different environment the banks were working in. Banks have just begun to emerge from the system where was only one bank in Russia. Now it's very different situation. There are a number of interesting large banks that are commercially oriented and universal. And there is Sberbank which is sort of 800 pound guerrilla whilst everybody else is a midget. This creates uneven market. There is a great deal of concentration. For the benefit of Russia there has to be the change of priority, change in orientation. I think that Mr Kazmin who has taken Sberbank, reformed it and created something out of the very unwieldy bureaucracy into unified commercial bank. This perhaps a natural time when he steps aside and somebody else moves in who will take Sberbank into new, more market orientation.
RT: The Post Office is very much of a bureaucratic monopoly now such as was Sberbank 11 years ago. How much scope do you think is there for reform bearing in mind that there is a post office in every single city across Russia, 40,000 I believe?
R.H.: It's phenomenal area for Mr Kazmin to take over and to work the same magic that he has worked in Sberbank in the postal service. It can take three or four weeks for a letter to reach me from England. It can take a large number of days for a letter to go from one side of Moscow to the other. For example, even for bureaucracies – if I need to take something from the tax service which is sent by post it is easier for me to actually go there and pick up the form and deliver it to another ministry than it is for the postal service to do that transfer. Even in an age of Internet, e-mail, mobile phones there is still a place for physical transfer of paper. Post Office in Russia is not serving the nation very well. It's over-bureaucratic, too many people, too many disjointed functions. I think Kazmin has a great opportunity to transform it into more modern institution.