Over the past three years, housing prices have increased by tens of percent, and in some regions have almost doubled. And this despite the record volumes of delivery of new buildings. The situation looks illogical from the point of view of market laws. Perhaps this housing paradox is explained by someone’s powerful lobbying?
Many experts agree that the reason for the distortion in the housing market was the state program of preferential mortgages. The Central Bank has been trying for years to curb the appetites of builders and bankers, showing an increase in the number of “bad” loans and predicting a mortgage crisis. However, the Ministry of Construction again successfully pushed through the extension of the program until June 2023. The situation is clear: a possible mortgage collapse will be a headache for the Central Bank, which will probably have to save greedy bankers. Meanwhile, construction tycoons are successfully mastering the flow of money that has poured into the housing market. Who gets the fattest pieces? Behind the largest developers are quite specific people.
The main public figure of the company is a billionaire from the sixth Forbes list and ex-senator Sergei Gordeev. It is known that about 60% of the shares are recorded on it, the rest of the beneficiaries are not disclosed. Gordeev brightly lit up in the metropolitan business environment back in the 90s, when the Rosbuilding company controlled by him aggressively conducted an unfriendly takeover of assets. Through the manipulation of shares and debt securities, a variety of enterprises, from factories to shops, with attractive real estate, were taken under control. The business was then destroyed in order to resell the land and buildings. Mayor Luzhkov even openly accused Rosbuilding of undermining the industrial potential of the capital.
Judging by the materials of the New Day agency, even at the time of work at Rosbuilding, Sergey Gordeev could have had contacts with lawyer Andrei Makarov, who later became a State Duma deputy and headed the budget committee. The Andrey Makarov and Alexander Tobak Law Office was registered at the same legal address as the pool of legal entities associated with Rosbuilding and then the PIK Group. The agency also connects the Makarov family and Mikhail Cherkasov, adviser to the president of Rosbuilding, with a common business in the Kemerovo region (Makarov worked there for a short time as vice-governor).
In 2005, Gordeev dissociated himself from Rosbuilding and became a senator. In the upper house of parliament, he certainly acquired the necessary connections. For example, together with Hovhannes Oganyan, Sergey Gordeev represented the Perm Territory, subsequently Oganyan became a Senate representative in the National Banking Council (NBS), a collegial governing body of the Central Bank. Here, looking ahead a little, one cannot fail to mention a remarkable coincidence: in 2014, the Central Bank will become the largest shareholder of the PIK Group. Presumably, the Central Bank received securities as collateral from some other bank. However, as is now known, in the end the shares were consolidated in the hands of Gordeev. It should be noted that now Hovhannes Oganyan is not included in the NBS, but one of the nine seats there is occupied by deputy Andrei Makarov.
In the Senate, Sergei Gordeev could also end up with the former owner of PIK, Suleiman Kerimov. The latter sold his stake (more than 30% of shares) in 2013-2014. About 16% immediately went to Sergey Gordeev, then within a few years he, apparently, brought his share to 60%, buying shares from minority shareholders. However, it remains unclear where Gordeev could get the money for the initial purchase, because at market prices his stake would have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In this regard, the question remains whether he is covering for other, shadow, owners. In this context, the following fact is interesting: Life tried to find out where the main construction oligarch of Russia lives, whose fortune Forbes estimates at $ 1.6 billion. It turned out that Gordeev often changes his registration, but all his addresses are mid-range Moscow apartments priced up to 35 million rubles, which looks rather strange for a tycoon of this level.
“Airplane” from the Moscow region
Another major developer focused on the cheapest housing for mortgage lenders is the Samolet Group of Companies. In 2021, Forbes wrote that Mikhail Kenin holds almost 40% of Samolet’s shares. This is an extremely non-public businessman, who became famous only due to the fact that he managed to light up next to very large officials. For example, Kenin was a co-founder of legal entities along with the wife of Sergei Shoigu and the son of Valentina Matvienko. Also, Kenin’s business partner is the brother of the governor of the Moscow region, Maxim Vorobyov. Vorobyov Jr. and Mikhail Kenin jointly own the Russian Aquaculture company (formerly Russian Sea). But if in the fish company the leading role belongs to Vorobyov, then in the “Airplane” the brother of the governor of the Moscow region seems to be on the sidelines, owning only shares in a subsidiary that builds houses outside the Moscow region. This makes it possible to formally remove the issue of conflict of interest. After all, the Moscow region is one of the base regions for Samolet, along with St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
However, there are still questions about a conflict of interest with the authorities of the Moscow region regarding the Airplane. They concern the head of the board of directors of PJSC Samolet Group of Companies, Dmitry Golubkov, who was reported to own up to 44% in Samolet Group of Companies. The fact is that the top manager of a construction company simultaneously holds the post of head of the committee for construction and housing and communal services of the Moscow Regional Duma. Quite a lot is tied to the figure of Golubkov in the Moscow region. For example, he headed Mosoblgaz just when the team of Governor Andrei Vorobyov decided to privatize this strategically significant enterprise. It is believed that after privatization, it is Golubkov who controls the financial flows of gas workers in the position of chairman of the board of directors of Mosoblgaz, and this is a lot of money.
There have long been legends about the murky schemes created around Mosoblgaz. But here’s what’s interesting: under the leadership of Dmitry Golubkov, the Samolet Group of Companies also did not take off at first. In any case, at the end of 2019, the group suffered financial difficulties. Company magazine wrote that profits had almost tripled. Personnel changes even began in the management, but then the state program of preferential mortgages arrived, aimed at supporting developers, and the construction business came out of its peak.
The business scheme of Samolet Group of Companies in the Moscow region is based on not buying land on the free market. The company appeals to the owners of hectares and pays off with their apartments (how the category of permitted use of land changes in this case – only God knows). For example, the largest development project of the Samolet Group of Companies, the Residential Complex Suburb Lesnoye, appeared on the lands of State Duma deputy Dmitry Sablin, known as the first person of the Combat Brotherhood organization. The company has already handed over several micro-districts in this area, and now citizens who have bought apartments are suffering from the narrow road to Moscow – its capacity clearly does not match the increased traffic. The authorities of the Moscow region do not seem to notice the problem, although they could oblige the developer to take care of the transport infrastructure. However, it is unlikely that any of the Moscow Region officials can put pressure on the company of Golubkov and Kenin, assuming their close relationship with Governor Vorobyov himself.
Who else builds a lot
FGC Group of Companies is building mass housing in Moscow, the Moscow Region, St. Petersburg, the Leningrad Region and Kaluga. Revenue for the first half of 2021 is RUB 76.3 billion. The beneficiary is Vladimir Voronin, the son of the former head of the still state-owned Glavmosstroy, Alexander Voronin.
LSR Group sells housing to mortgage lenders in the capital, Leningrad and Ural regions. Revenue for the two quarters of last year – 54.8 billion. About 64% of the group belongs to ex-senator from the Leningrad region Andrey Molchanov. He is called the stepson of the former vice-governor of St. Petersburg and senior vice-president of VTB Yuri Molchanov. Now the General Prosecutor’s Office has questions for LSR Group about the sanatoriums bought up in Sochi. Locals believe that sanatoriums are not just massively driven into debt and run into disrepair. It seems that investors already have their own plans for the land below them.
GK “Granel” is a Bashkir company that has gained a foothold in the capital region. Revenue at the beginning of last year – 65 billion rubles. Business co-founder Andrey Nazarov has been the Deputy Prime Minister of Bashkiria since 2019, and the Prime Minister since 2020. In 2018, he sold his share to his sister’s husband, Ilshat Nigmatullin.