Dear friends,

December is here – time again to look back over the year. This outgoing year reflects one overriding trend: companies that suspended their membership in the past due to the financial crisis and recession, as they say in the West, are now returning to SPIBA! Large manufacturing companies, small and medium businesses feel more confident in the market, and are more open to dialogue, and are willing to share practical experience, knowledge and expertise.

SPIBA acquired not only financial stability in 2012, but has become more widely known in the North-West of Russia and in the Nordic countries. Thanks to the cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers (NORDEN), SPIBA Members were able to visit cities such as Arkhangelsk, Kaliningrad, Murmansk, Pskov, as well as Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki and Copenhagen. This year special emphasis has been made on to problems of corporate social responsibility and, in particular, the fight against corruption, ISO 26000, as well as meetings with government authorities, ministries, NGOs, representatives of Chambers of Commerce, business schools, universities and the heads of various companies.

Thanks to the interaction between SPIBA and NORDEN it has been made possible to hold an international seminar on“Business and power: Dialogue on the fight against corruption,” on the 27th of November, one of only a few recent events in the city held on such a critical topic for Russia and St. Petersburg in particular. We are grateful to all the companies who actively participated in the preparation and development of the seminar, as well as sharing their experiences in dealing with corruption and exchanging international practices, especially in Finland, where the level of corruption is zero. An expert from Denmark conducted the online testing of all participants of the seminar – this testing is one of many efficient tools for companies and public authorities to fight corruption.

Many of the goals have been achieved due to the enthusiasm, energy and commitment of the SPIBA working committees and activists. We thank all the Members for their initiative and effort which helped our projects become a reality! We would like to recall the most outstanding and memorable events:

November 13th we held the Annual General Meeting of SPIBA Members’. While planning the meeting on “Strategic investment projects of St. Petersburg”, we realized that we would like to get two views on the current situation, so we invited speakers not only from the City Government, but also from real business. Oleg K. Lyskov, Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Investments and Strategic Projects, presented an overview of ongoing and potential investment projects in St. Petersburg. We are very grateful to Oleg Kirillovich for the open dialogue with the business community and we are looking forward to continued collaboration with the Committee for Investments and Strategic Projects! As one of the most strategically important projects for the city is a current construction of the new passenger terminal “Pulkovo”, for us it was particularly important to know at what stage is the reconstruction of the airport and what to expect after delivery of the project. Project manager of the construction, Jochen Herter, presented the project to the Members’ attention, and spoke about the technical details of the construction of the terminal, the international standards embodied in the new project, as well as the reflection of the images of St. Petersburg in the design of the airport.

«Look @ it» events are getting more and more popular in SPIBA! This year Members visited companies “Elisa” and the industrial park «Greenstate», the plants of “GM Auto”, and “Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Rus’. On November 30 we organized an exciting tour to the Hyundai factory, where we saw one of the most automated production facilities in Russia and were able to observe all stages of the production process. On the territory of the “Imperial Porcelain Factory” we went to art workshops, visited the museum and gallery of modern art, and with our own his hands painted cups that each participant received as a gift from IFZ. Also we were seeing off the winter and ate hot pancakes in the Maslenitsa feast, which we were treated by welcoming hosts of the State Complex “Palace of Congresses”. Later in summer we visited the newly-opened after restoration Farmer Palace in Alexandria Park in the State Museum “Peterhof”, where members shared experience concerning corporate social responsibility.

The most active committees this year were SPIBA Finance Committee and the Committee on Human Resources. Both committees had the same number of events that hit records on attendance, that reflects, first of all, the high relevance of issues raised by the Committees, and, secondly, that prominent experts and bright personalities are being invited.

In November, the Finance Committee held a meeting on “Internal Audit”, which the subject was examined from all sides, both from the real business and by the consultants who are engaged in auditing services. On November 28th a round table on the theme of the Shared Service Center which is becoming more and more relevant in the globalization of the economy and the need to reduce the costs of the company. At the event, participants received information about the tools that can help not only to structure business processes, but also to minimize the tax risks and costs. On December 5th a business meeting was held with Olga G. Lapina, adviser to the State Civil Service of the Russian Federation 2nd class, specialist of Federal Tax Service of Russia. It is worth noting that this year federal authorities from Moscow appeared in our meetings with pleasure. We are sure that this trend will only increase in the new 2013!

December 7th, summarizing the financial results of the year, we conducted an analytical review of the economic situation in Russia and the world. Maxim Oreshkin, chief economist for Russia, VTB Capital, presented once again the financial outlook for the next six months, told about the potential threats and opportunities for business and for private parties in the coming period, and the possible economic scenarios in relation to the changes of key indicators for Russia.

The Committee on Human Resources of SPIBA on the 4th of December held a meeting with the management of the Federal Migration Service in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region. At the meeting, experts from FMS answered the most acute issues facing the company in hiring foreign staff, on agreements between the Russian Federation and other countries, as well as other issues related to the application of migration legislation.

Unjustly forgotten, but suddenly a very popular format, the “Breakfast with the Director” has found new life in SPIBA. We invite business leaders, executives, directors, who share an interesting experience, to talk about innovative approaches to business, non-standard solutions, all that leads to a breakthroughs and new heights of success. The format of the event allows us to conduct business meetings, not only in the hospitable SPIBA office in the Mertens House, but also in small cozy places in the city, which gives to the event a special atmosphere.

When New Year is coming one of the important questions is travelling and related expenses! On December 11th, in conjunction with the airlines Air France / KLM, we had a meeting on a possible reduction of the cost of flights and unique programs for corporate clients with a variety of budgets and the flight map. The event was ended up with the raffle, which included models of Air France aircrafts and other great prizes!

We thank all our members for their immense contribution to the life of the association this year and hope that next year will be even more productive and our big team will be replenished by new companies, new people, and new initiatives and ideas!

We wish all of us in the New Year joint success and accomplishments, friendly communication, and to achieve the perfect balance between work and personal life!