Tuloma Investment Company (TIC) specialises in investing in public and private assets in Russia. Established by Russian entrepreneur Andrey Filatov in 2013, TIC manages investments in companies operating in strategic sectors such as transport, infrastructure, oil refining, real estate development and innovations.TIV is also involved in raising capital for Russian companies by investing independently or co-investing with international partners and aims to develop structured investment solutions for international investment funds facilitating investments int the Russian stock market.
BIG talked to its founder and chairman Andrey Filatov
How did your business career begin?
While I was studying to become a chess coach, I went to Poland for a chess tournament in Katowice, and it didn’t take a genius to work out that if you brought some goods to Poland from the Soviet Union and bought some back with you, you could earn as much as a Russian engineer which was more than ten times I was living off as a student. The first time I did this I brought a little bit of everything – electronic goods, a cd player for my future wife, clothes, perfume, currency. I made a profit from the very beginning.
Where did you go from there? And where did the name Tuloma come from?
My first significant business venture was Severstaltrans which I set up in 1996 [with partners Konstantin Nikolaev and Nikita Mishin and which is now known as N Trans]. It was a freight forwarding company that predominantly shipped goods in and out of the Port of Murmans for Servestal Steel. Tuloma is the name of a river that runs through the Murmansk oblast’s Kola Peninsula which is itself almost entirely within the Arctic Circle. The Tuloma river is unique in that it changes direction every day because the pressure from the sea is so strong that it pushes its waters back over the mountains. So, when I decided to consolidate all my business interests into one entity it seemed an appropriate name, because we are always ready to go against the flow if and when the time is right.
Nowadays, the company is involved in a wide range of sectors. Is there a common thread that runs through your choice of investments?
On the domestic front, I look at sectors that have export potential because I believe in the long term the rouble will continue to weaken. This means that there are some great profit margins to be made from exports, and I want a slice of that action; and because investors are now bailing out of Russia, it’s time for national investors to step in But in the end, I invest in those sectors I either believe in or love or both. Right now that ranges from natural gas all the way to art and wine.
Let’s start with gas. In 2017 you invested in the 25 Years of Independence gas field in southern Uzbekistan. Why?
I strongly believe in gas, because it is both a natural resource and also always very profitable. It has a huge potential as a part of the world’s energy infrastructure and the main export markets for the Uzbek fields are Chinese industrial and manufacturing sectors which are effectively on its doorstep. And, because the quality of life in China is improving so rapidly, there is a growing demand for environmentally healthy energy supplies which will see a gradual switch from coal to gas. Everything about gas looks promising to me.
Which other sectors do you believe have good growth potential?
It is clear that the Earth’s population is going to keep on growing for the next 50 years or so and we are going to have to produce more food and increase productivity to feed everybody. That is why I have invested in fertilizer and why I am a big fan of Rusagro because it is already exporting to 100 countries around the world. In addition to demand for its products being virtually guaranteed for many years to come, it also has high-quality management and pays good dividends.
Can you tell us about Art Russe and your patronage of Soviet art?
When the Soviet Empire sprang to life, it was large and bright and turned an illiterate agricultural country into one that won a world war, sent the first person into space and invented atomic energy. They also showed the value of music to the world. But once the Iron Curtain came down, its culture got cut off from the world. As a result, the works of artists [such as Konstantin Maximov, Mai Danzig and Alexander Laktionov] now go for crazy money and the main buyers are usually Asian and mainly Chinese. Eight years ago, I set up the Art Russe foundation to promote Soviet-era art more systematically, and I decided that one way to generate even greater enthusiasm for Soviet art was to cross-market it with wine, which is another of my passions. When someone drinks wine and looks at a painting they start getting interested and then the prices go up.
1993: Graduates from the the Belorussian State University of Physical Culture with a diploma in Sport Instruction and Chess Coaching
1996: Co-founds Severstaltrans
2012: Establishes the Art Russe foundation
2013: Sets up the Tuloma Investment Company and acquires the 19th century La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs chateau in St Emilion in the heart of the French wine-growing region of Bordeaux
2015: Consolidates his personal assets (other than Global Ports, Transoil and Globaltrans) into TIC. Its investment portfolio includes stakes in Coal Mining Investments, Fabrikant, Pskovneft-Terminal, VOIC (real estate) and shares in FosAgro, Novatek, MegaFon, LukOil, Surgutneftegas and Norilsk Nickel.