Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Survey Says Chubais Nation's Worst Boss

He may have been treated like a son by former President Boris Yeltsin and an economic savior by Western governments, but for 23 of the leading investors in the Russian economy, national power grid boss Anatoly Chubais is the worst manager in the country.

Chubais was given the booby prize this week in a survey of the country's top investors, both foreign and domestic, conducted by the Association for the Protection of Investors Rights.

The survey focused on the managers of Russia's publicly traded companies and rated their performance in eight categories, including overall strategies, financial transparency and approaches to protecting minority shareholders.

Russia's best managers, according to the survey, are top oil producer LUKoil's Vagit Alekperov and steel giant Severstal's Alexei Mordashov.

Survey participants blasted Chubais' plan to restructure the debt-plagued UES, one of the country's largest companies and its most-traded stock.

"The results of this survey is a vote of no confidence [in Chubais]," said Bill Browder, managing director of the Heritage Fund, a survey participant and a minority shareholder in UES.

According to Browder, UES share price has dropped more than 66 percent since Chubais revealed his restructuring plan at the end of March. That compares with a 45 percent decline in the RTS index. UES, through its 84 regional utility subsidiaries known as energos, has a monopoly on local power distribution.

UES plays a substantial role in the economy, and many market analysts agree Chubais' actions have the power to affect Russia's economic growth. The long-awaited restructuring of UES is badly needed if it is to receive the massive foreign investment necessary to upgrade its crumbling infrastructure and pave the way for competition.

Supporters of Chubais' plan argue it is too early to judge the results of his reforms. "[UES] does have problems with reorganizing their business, but many foreign companies take from five to 15 years to restructure," said Marina Ionova, an analyst at Aton brokerage, which was also surveyed.

Ionova added that the survey is an instrument Chubais' opponents could be using for political gain. She said Chubais' rivals understand the importance of shareholder opinion.

"UES shareholders were very excited when Chubais took the hot seat in 1998," Ionova said. "Therefore, his political opponents realize the best way to discredit him is by highlighting shareholders' dissatisfaction."

But APIR claims it was under no political pressure when it launched its survey of about 60 percent of its members, including Deutsche Bank, the Dart Family, the Tempelton Fund and the Russian insurance giant Ingosstrakh, and found that most were simply unhappy with Chubais' approach.

"Restructuring is one thing, but selling assets at the most undervalued level is quite another," said the Heritage Fund's Browder. "He is just using the word 'restructuring' to justify the sale of assets."

However, Browder conceded some minority shareholders want to see Chubais ousted.

"There is a good chance we can convince the government to fire him as it becomes more clear that this is just another loan-for-share scandal in the making," he said, referring to Chubais-led privatizations in the mid-'90s that were widely recognized to have given control of some of Russia's most valuable enterprises to powerful banks at bargain-basement prices.

Chubais told reporters Thursday that he agrees that his re-organization plan could use some fine-tuning, and he is interested in constructive criticism, but considers accusations like Browder's unfounded, Interfax reported.

He also said that he expects the plan to attract up to $50 billion in foreign investment in the next 10 years.