On November 11, at a ceremony held in the Reception House of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alfa-Bank and the Said Business School at Oxford University announced the recipient of the annual Award for Excellence in Foreign Investment in Russia. The winner must have had a significant positive effect on the country as demonstrated by the size of its investment and number of jobs created; an excellent record of business practice; and a commitment to long-term operations in Russia. This year, the award has gone to Danone.
Thomas Reuter, Danones General Director, said: «This award is an acknowledgement of Danones long history of successful operations in Russia. Our investment is proof of our confidence in this country, its future and, most importantly, its people. Now that we are merging with Unimilk, we plan to become the No.1 player on the Russian dairy market, and we are committed to doing our best to continuously hold ourselves to higher standards, for the sake of both the industry and consumers.»
Alfa-Bank President Petr Aven noted: «Many companies suffered during the crisis, and only a few managed to continue to run successful businesses in Russia. One of them was Danone, which is receiving this award today. Russia has a special relationship with this years winner. Danone was one of the first Western companies to come to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, acquiring assets here and developing local production. »
The ceremony was attended by Russian ministers and heads of government agencies, foreign ambassadors, leaders of large Russian and Western companies, and heads of foreign news bureaus.
The speakers at the awards ceremony have traditionally been well known political and public figures, including former British Prime Minister John Major (2005), former German Vice Chancellor Joschka Fischer (2006), former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (2007), former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (2008), and former US Senator Charles Hagel (2009).
This years speaker was Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who thanked Alfa-Bank for the invitation and said that in the last twenty years, he has spoken all over the world, but this was the first time he had paid an unofficial visit to Russia to make a speech.
Previous recipients of the award include Procter & Gamble (2003), Nestle (2004), United Technologies (2005), Deutsche Bank AG (2006), General Motors (2007), Intel (2008) and McDonalds (2009).