David Yakobashvili — hostage fate | Предприниматель

David Yakobashvili — hostage fate

By building his empire, David Yakobashvili successfully coped with the bandits. Overcome market competition was not so easy.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of “Wimm-Bill-Dann” David Yakobashvili first encountered serious difficulties in its core business. Key indicators of the largest Russian food industry deteriorated, its brands in the market feel much less confident than before. Business out of old partners. Is 46-year-old Iakobachvili – one of the most successful businessmen of Russia – lost the talent to turn everything he touches into gold?

Iakobachvili unique track record. In the restructuring, he led one of the first cooperatives in 1992 – almost the first modern motor show in 1993 – the largest casino in Russia. In the mid-1990s, “Wimm-Bill-Dann” launched in the dairy and juice market first brands on a national scale – «J-7,” “House in the Country” and “Sweet Mila”, and February 8, 2002 has successfully placed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). And it became clear that Russian capitalism entered the new stage of development: consumer company has managed to become as attractive as the raw material.

And suddenly something broke in runs like clockwork mechanism. Over the past two years, the main barometer of economic activity Russia – RTS stock index rose by 140%, while shares of WBD and have remained at the level of the prices at which they were placed, and even cheaper by 5%. The company earned $ 21 million in net profit last year on revenue of $ 939 million – is 41% lower than in 2002. Debt increased by as much as $ 201 million agency Standard & Poor’s changed the outlook of the company’s investment rating to negative from stable.

In November last year, after two years of negotiations, the French food giant Groupe Danone has abandoned its intention to buy a controlling stake WBD. Yakobashvili said that negotiations have been terminated by the decision of both parties. But if the deal for Danone is one of the many co-owners for WBD she could become the crown of their multi-year effort.


The backbone of the group, who later created the “Wimm-Bill-Dann”, was formed in the hotel “Union” on the northern outskirts of Moscow, where Paul worked Dudnikov and Evgeny Yaroslavsky – a restaurant manager, the other bartender. Sometimes friends were traveling on business in Tbilisi, where in 1984, made friends with a student dropouts Polytechnic Institute David Yakobashvili, who was then serving in the security services. He himself was a frequent visitor to Moscow: his mother was born there. “Moscow – the city is small – Yakobashvili said in an interview with Forbes.

– I still keep dating, which started in the 70s. ”
Some of his old friends were at the origins of the cooperative movement. In early 1987, Dudnikov and Yaroslavsky and his partner Michael Vishnyakov founded on Pokrovka beauty “Ginseng”, one of the first cooperatives in Russia. In 1988, the Muscovites remembered Tbilisi friend, Iakobachvili moved to the capital and was connected to the case.

While doing business could only truly brave people: for the newly appeared entrepreneurs hunted racketeers. “The kids had to go to the” arrow “- says Iakobachvili. – Frequently visited us. Some people liked the room “Ginseng” pitching came and said, “Here we train. It’s ours. ” How could fight back? Iakobachvili continues: “Many people respect only brute force. Thank God it did not go over certain limits. But people felt they could get a rebuff. ”

In 1989, a team led Iakobachvili new companion – just released from prison Gabriel (“Garik”) Yushvaev. In 1980 Yushvaev upekli for 9 years, because he was beating out of the debtor’s money. It is hardly necessary to explain, what connections he could return to the area. Yushvaev himself refused to give an interview to Forbes. Iakobachvili common past of the man was not embarrassed, he says that a “thief in law” Yushvaev not.

Garik not just accepted in general business, Iakobachvili affinity with him by marrying his niece. Partnership between the two businessmen and to this day – the basis of “family.” One businessman, who works with the group, but is not part of it, in an interview with Forbes named Yushvaev “kulaks team”, “man-bear”. Iakobachvili same, he says, “the brain of all this business.”

Easy Money

The team of the future founders of the “Wimm-Bill-Dann” readily took on any profitable business. Partners rented a boat on the Moscow River into a hotel for foreign workers, tourists were transported to the hotels of the “Sheremetyevo”, furnished the furniture “Metropol”.

Furnished helped a friend from Sweden. He, by the way, and threw up the idea of ​​the brand name. Once Iakobachvili and his two partners discussed with the Swedish another matter. Drinking. Foreigner so impressed cohesion partners, he said: “You are right Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity. ”

The first really big business “Trinity” was the trade of second-hand American cars. Iakobachvili with partners themselves first traveled to the U.S. for the “Cadillac” and “Chevrolet” and even by sitting at the wheel of the road carrier of Finland.

Meanwhile infancy even more profitable business – gaming. “Trinity” was to deliver in St. Petersburg and Moscow the first “one-armed bandits.” And when they began to appear a casino, “Trinity” in cooperation with the Swedish company engaged in the gaming business, and concern “Albee”, owned by businessman Oleg Boiko, have built up the largest complex in the capital of gambling – casino “Cherry” and a nightclub “Snowstorm” on Novy Arbat . Which opened in the summer of 1993 a grim casino “Cherry” hit the brilliance of multi-colored lights. Money flowed. English manager “Snowstorm” then told Forbes: «If this goes on, we will refund the money invested ($ 5,000,000) in four months.”

Bandit War

The more money appeared in Moscow, the hectic getting on the streets. Auto business has turned into an arena of fierce struggle for survival, “Chechen” and “Baumanskoye” exchanged gunfire, violence is often passed by the door of the same casinos and night clubs. Prosperous “Trinity”, of course, could not attract envious glances. “We had a good security organization – says Iakobachvili. – Everything is the same as the others did. The authorities did not specifically protected, had to defend themselves – where cunning, where strength, where the mind, where something else. ”

One of those who survived those troubled times, was Vladislav Wanner, which the newspaper attributed to the role of head Bauman gang – he was shot in January 1994. According to investigators, the killer was the famous Alexander Solonik (nicknamed Alexander the Great). Wanner near death touched Iakobachvili.

“We were friends – said a businessman. – I was helping him, and he told me. He drove us to the car when it was necessary. ” But what about the Bauman group? “You can glue the labels in every one … Can all to label anything you want. If he grew up in the Bauman district, it does not mean that he was the leader of group – said Yakobashvili. – And in general, what Bauman criminal gang? The press does not understand many things. They have seen enough movies about the mafia. ”

Against the backdrop of conflict and the “showdown” “Trinity” flourished. And over time, the partners first task was to invest the money earned.


For six months before the launch of “Cherry” to Iakobachvili asked two young men – Sergey PLastinin and Mikhail Dubinin. They rented a bottling line juices Lianozovo Dairy and needed help. “They had to be on the market – explains Iakobachvili – and we already had some kind of connection.” Such ties are not only allowed to lease new bottling line, but also to buy a combine – Ramenskii.

The first name of juices gave the name of the company itself: the word “Wimm-Bill-Dann” was coined in consonance with voiced English “Wimbledon.” Developing inviting former Soviet buyer western theme, the founders of the company in 1994, came up with a brand «J-7» (Seven Juices, «Seven juice”), and a year later bought a controlling stake in Wimm-Bill-Lianozovsky plant.

“Wimm-Bill-Dann” grew rapidly. Partners of the “Trinity” at first it seemed that it was just another “perk”, the dimensions of which do not go to any comparison of the cash flow from gambling. But first casino profits have steadily dropped, and the consumer market, on the contrary, the money flowed. “Wimm-Bill-Dann” opened the manufacture of dairy products (currently 70% of the total turnover of the company), millions of dollars have been invested in advertising, so that the market appeared to all known brands. For 10 years, “Wimm-Bill-Dann” united 24 companies across the country.

Of course, not everything went as smoothly as it looks today. In 1997, for example, a dispute broke out with Vladimir Tambov, director Lianozovsky plant and a major shareholder of the group. “He was our partner, but, unfortunately, got in touch with a group, with the bandits, and wanted us to expel from the plant,” – says Iakobachvili. As a result, Tambov lost the conflict and was forced to give up their shares.

In the “family”, led by Iakobachvili and Yushvaev, there were clear rule: who does not work – do not eat. The rule applies even to the founding fathers. Paul angelica, for example, was a key member of the team from the very beginning, it belonged to him a brilliant idea to bring “Wimm-Bill-Dann” on the New York Stock Exchange. But in 2000, due to a severe eye disease Dudnikov was forced to resign as chairman of the board of directors of the company and sell its share to other partners, without waiting for the exit on the NYSE. “He knew – said Yakobashvili. – Said I can not work, I want to sell. And sold. ” After that, he took the chair Iakobachvili.

Rules of the “family” strict. The only exception is obviously done for Yushvaev. According Iakobachvili, he “never takes decisions on the IAP.” However, it Yushvaev is the largest shareholder of the company: it has 19% of the shares. We Iakobachvili only 9%.

New competitors

It is still unclear why the deal fell through with Danone: the parties have agreed to keep confidential details of the negotiations. Different versions are being built: Danone wanted to buy just the dairy assets, and shareholders sold to “milk” with “juice”, the current partners in the WBD intended to stay in control of the company, and Danone objected, and finally, just do not agree on the price.

One thing is clear: as long as there were negotiations, WBD began to take positions. Last year, for the first time in the history of “Wimm-Bill-Dann” decreased volumes of sales of juices. This reduction is doubly alarming when you consider that the very juice market grew by 13% due to VBD young competitors such as JSC “Lebedyanskiy” (brands such as “I”, “Tone” and “Orchard”) and “Multon» (Rich “Good”). In the dairy business WBD while holding position, although rapidly gaining momentum such dangerous competitors, as is still the same and the German company Danone Ehrmann.

Over the past year, the administrative costs have increased IAP, with the launch of new packaging company was late, import and distribution system began to falter. As recognized Yakobashvili, during talks with Danone Company “relaxed.” WBD now hastily trying to fix things: change of directors juice business has finally launched new types of packaging, launched an extensive advertising campaign.

But if WBD, despite all the turmoil, continues to be the largest producer of dairy products in Russia, then in the beer market Iakobachvili have not managed to take the lead. Over the past few years, partners at “Wimm-Bill-Dann” have invested about $ 50 million in the purchase of four breweries in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Vladivostok and in Bashkortostan, as well as to the development of national brands. However, both by brands – “Legion” and “The Messenger” – fell flat. Central European Brewing Company (cleavers) was not able to compete with “Baltika” and Sun Interbrew, owned by powerful western holdings.

Incubator Project

Iakobachvili partners continue to act in the same way as in the early 1990s, spraying efforts on various types of businesses. In the month of Iakobachvili considering almost fifty different projects. Each of the partners in Wimm-Bill-Dann and “Trinity Group” has the right to bring up for discussion the idea of ​​their colleagues and bring to realization the other.

Projects, as in the early years, is surprisingly different. There are 800 elite breeds of cows on a farm in the Moscow Gorki-2. There are commercial properties in prime locations in Moscow. There are 200,000 hectares of land in the long-term lease in the Volgograd region. Most business projects are selected without a thorough study. “Starting a business, we would certainly attract professionals who analyze the market. But the project is interesting or not, I decide myself – says Iakobachvili. – I can not say that I read the technical description, but the idea of ​​catch. ”

In this approach, a high probability of errors. In the mid-1990s Iakobachvili partners have invested $ 1 million in the development of Russian scientists – antenna system that enables to track the movement of objects in the city. But scientists have not managed to make the system work with the required accuracy. In addition, if Iakobachvili more carefully consulted with experts, they surely would have warned him of the impending arrival of the satellite navigation system GPS, which has almost completely replaced all of the local system like the one that was created for his money.

Yakobashvili said steadily and monotonously and lights up only when it comes to new projects. Then his voice heard again colossal ambition and desire to make a breakthrough.

That is how he treats his investment – $ 6,000,000 – in the construction of a gypsum plant in Kabardino-Balkaria. It is a joint business with the president of the Russian Jewish Congress Yevgeny Satanovsky. Iakobachvili ready to win a part of the wound in the German company Knauf, which dominates the market for gypsum building materials in Russia.

With even more enthusiasm Iakobachvili speaks about the open a few years ago the production of respiratory protection. Together with other partners and Yushvaev he invests $ 30 million in the production of the unique technology of compact gas masks, hoods. By next year it is going to produce a million units per month. It remains to understand who buys so many wonderful respirators. “Our safety equipment should be in every man – says entrepreneur. – Especially given the current threat of terrorist attacks. ”

For sale

Meanwhile, members of the old team that founded the “Wimm-Bill-Dann” and “Trinity Group”, continue to diverge.

“Some of the major shareholders of” Wimm-Bill-Dann “carried away by his business and sells shares – says CEO Sergei PLastinin WBD. – Someone thinks at all quit the business. ” But not all shares are leaving the “family.” “There is a contract that binds the major shareholders of certain rules – explains Iakobachvili. – We can not sell shares to the side with no common agreement. If they decide to sell something in the market, first, we agree that it is not struck by the company and not to collapse prices. ”

In February and March of this year, in the face of falling stock prices WBD, five long-standing partners Iakobachvili sold a total of 8% “Wimm-Bill-Dann”. Some shares Iakobachvili had to buy himself – probably at a lower price. “The fact that the main partners of the shares take off – a bad sign for the foreign market” – he explains.

Over the past two years Iakobachvili or sold, or was willing to sell most of its assets. After a failed attempt to gain control over the “KNG” he lost his 45 per cent stake in the oil-producing enterprise “Gazprombank”, according to analysts, the final buyer is a “Rosneft”. He recently broke up with a project that has launched nine years ago – the restaurant “White Swan” on Clean Ponds in Moscow. Now he is willing to sell car dealer “Trinity Motors” and is also looking for strategic partners for the brewing company and a major producer of TsEPKO neon sign “Trinity Neon.”

David Yakobashvili denies that “Wimm-Bill-Dann” or his other companies have a serious problem, and says she has always been willing to part with any of their businesses. But one thing is clear: the Russian market has changed, and Iakobachvili with partners new to this market competition. Perseverance and courage that helped earn millions in state in the early 1990s, now giving way to professional management and the ability to gain a foothold in certain market niches. Not only enter the market with a scarce commodity, you need to carefully develop a business plan to invest millions of dollars in marketing, build distribution network, well-control administrative costs and manufacturing processes.

For the soul to such hard work David Yakobashvili and its partners? Chairman of the Board of Directors of “Wimm-Bill-Dann” says that a few years ago was about to leave the company. Then he did not succeed, and even today to decide on this would be easy. “I, unfortunately, can not do that because of commitments to the people with whom I work for a long time – says the businessman. – In a way, I’m just a pawn of the case.”

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