Goldman Sachs senior banker joins Russian grocery chain

By Jason Corcoran in London May 12, 2016

Anton Farlenkov, senior banker at Goldman Sachs in Moscow, is joining Russian grocery chain O'Key as strategy and M&A director.

bne IntelliNews reported exclusively in April that Farlenkov, head of research at Goldman Sachs for Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, was leaving to join a Russian retail company.

Investment banks in Moscow have been slashing staff and costs amid a collapse in commodity prices and sanctions over Ukraine. Goldman Sachs, Wall Street's most profitable investment bank, saw its Russian business fees drop by 80% to just $1mn last year, according to data compiled by New York-based consultancy Freeman & Co.

Farlenkov, a nine-year veteran at Goldman Sachs, will have "lead responsibility" for advising the board of directors at O'Key on determining the strategic direction of the company as well as broadening communications with the international business and investment community, according to an e-mailed statement from the company. 

Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, he held different commercial and IT related positions in Royal Dutch Shell in Holland and Infoshare in the US. 

Heigo Kera, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of O'Key Group, said: "For many years, Anton has been recognized by leading international investors as the authoritative expert on the EEMEA retail industry, and we are counting on his skills and expertise to substantially raise our game at O'Key."

"The current environment poses substantial challenges, but also presents tremendous opportunities for O'Key," said Farlenkov. "It is great to be joining the Company at such an interesting time."

 O'Key is one of the largest retail chains in Russia. Its primary retail format is the modern Western European style hypermarket under the O'Key brand reinforced by O'Key supermarket. The group is developing the innovative discounter format under the Da! brand. O'Key is the first Russian food retailer to launch e-commerce operations in St. Petersburg and Moscow based on hypermarket assortment.

The Russia food retail sector remains weak given the exhaustion of Russian consumer spending, the Aton investment company said in an overview of the sector published on May 11. At the same time, the largest federal chains still have potential to expand, Aton analysts say.

Aton expects the Russian retail market to contract by 2.5% in real terms in 2016, led by the non-food segment.

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