Foreign Companies Build Infrastructure Across Russia

Chudaev Anton / Poma Ski Lifts

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi have acted as a catalyst for cities to renovate their infrastructure across the country.

While many international construction companies and equipment suppliers have beaten a path to Russia's Black Sea coast, there has been just as much activity in other regions, especially in the field of civic transportation  and tourist infrastructure.

Nor will construction end with the Sochi Olympics. The 2018 Football World Cup is the next-best known event. However this year Moscow will host the Track and Field World Championships, and Kazan, the summer Universiades. The same city hosts the World Aquatics Championships in 2015 and  Yekaterinburg will put its World Cup infrastructure to use in 2020 when the World Expo takes place.

One the major participants in the Sochi adventure is La Compagnie des Alpes (CDA) a subsidiary of La Caisse des Dépots, financing major projects in the Caucasus. The CDA is supervising the construction and running of the Olympic resort of Rosa Khutor, which will host the Alpine skiing, snowboarding and freestyle events. La Compagnie des Alpes has taken on the challenge of turning Rosa Khutor into a world class, renowned ski station in only four or five years.

Cluster Montagne is an alliance of companies specialising in mountain resorts and sports, such as Poma and Le Groupe Egis. The body acts as an interface for the French companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises, and their clients.  Members of Cluster Montagne earn from 7-to-8 million euro a year from developing and operating ski resorts. "Our mission is to pursue the dual objective of improving France's appeal as a destination and of positioning France's companies at international level," said Benoit Robert, director of the cluster.

The development of transport infrastruc- ture in Nizhny Novgorod is very important on the eve of the 2018 Football World Cup.

Other companies have expanded their activities well beyond Sochi. The Poma company, a world leader in cable transport, has installed two ski lifts and a cable car at Rosa Khutor. Beyond the four ski stations that will be supporting the Olympics, Poma is also working on five other projects for the development of world-class reputation ski stations, notably in Arkhys and Elbrus. A ski lift of 18 pylons has been opened in Arkhys in a record time. "It was not easy because we had to work in a very limited time. We built the whole thing in six months and in winter" says Christian Bouvier, commercial director at Poma, in an interview with La Russie d'Aujourd'hui. In total, the company will build 180 ski lifts in the next eight  years.

Poma is involved in the overall development plan of the North Caucasus, an investment project that aims at transforming the region into one of the most renowned mountain tourist destination in the world.

More surprisingly, Poma is also an international expert in urban transportation with the building of urban cable cars. The first, innovative specimen in Russia was built in Nizhny Novgorord and completed in 2012. This alternative mean of transportation links the peripheral city of Bor with Nizhny Novgorod across the Volga and has significantly reduced the traffic in town. Poma has since proposed to build three new cable cars in Nizhny Novgorod, a project that is part of the preparations for the FIFA World Cup that will also take place in Nizhny in 2018. One of the cable cars will stop at the future stadium.

The approximate cost of the three projects is 3.3 billion rubles, half of which will come from the regional budget, and completion is expected by 2017. "The agreement will have a significant impact on the development of transport infrastructure in Nizhny Novgorod. This is especially important on the eve of the World Cup in 2018," said the deputy governor, Natalia Kazachkova.

The Olympic Committee intends that Sochi will be able to welcome 75,000 guests simultaneously at 10 different sports sites. In order to reach that capacity, the Russian government relied on international companies for transport and supply. Alstom is building the fast track railway between Moscow and Sochi in collaboration with Russian Railways. Schneider Electric is providing equipment goods in high and low voltage for the Olympic installations.

SMEs also work alongside major ones: ABEST, France Neige International and Johnson Control are working together on snow coverage of the stations and small, dammed reservoir.

The MND Group from Savoie, present in Russia since 2003, will ensure protection against avalanches." Its subsidiary TAS has already installed about fifty explosive devices in order to trigger avalanches artificially to make roads and slopes safe at the sites. Another subsidiary of MND Group, MBS-ADIC has installed 10,000 meters of security fences.

Although Lafarge, leader in the cement industry, doesn't have any plants in operation in the Southern part of Russia, it supports construction activities in Sochi by providing imported cement to construction companies.  As part of its "building better cities" strategy, Lafarge has changed the approach to the infrastructure projects and starting from 2013 it has put in place a process which offers Lafarge solutions and materials for top sport, commercial and transport infrastructure projects.

Krost, one of key business partners of Lafarge Russia, provides concrete (made of Lafarge's cement) for the construction of Spartak Moscow's new stadium.

As part of French president Francois Hollande's visit to Russia in February 2013, the Ekaterinburg Administration signed a cooperation agreement with France's Le Groupe EGIS.

Le Groupe EGIS' business will involve Ekaterinburg's transport infrastructure, government and private housing, environmental protection, water supply and energy sector. According to UralInformBureau the French will, among other things, take part in designing and building Ekaterinburg's first rapid streetcar line and in creating a smart traffic control system. The French conglomerate will also offer help in improving the surrounding territory of the Central Stadium which will be renovated by the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the future World Expo 2020 site.

Bouygues Construction is expanding the hotel and residential capacity of Yekaterinburg in readiness for 2018. Bouyguesstroï, the Russian subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, has signed a contract for the construction of a luxury residential complex in Yekaterinburg.

It includes 115 apartments and a fitness club, adapted to the harsh climate. Bouygues will use special construction techniques as protection against the cold in order to complete the works in three years' time.