“Moscow City”, un distretto finanziario internazionale ?

di Thomas Beyerle

 

 

Moscow as an international financial

centre is a topic often discussed at real

estate conventions, congresses, exhibitions.

However, with Moscow is associated

a lot, but nearly nobody has in mind

a business district like Canary Wharf in

London or La Defense in Paris—pictures

that arise automatically in front of the inner

eyes of everybody hearing the names

of the two cities. But it is not only the

struggle against an established image

blocking Moscow’s development into one

of the big financial centres of the world.

Let’s be honest: which pictures arise in

front of your inner eyes when you have

to describe Moscow? Kremlin and the

Red Square, Saint Basil’s cathedral, the

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the department

store GUM—and endless traffic

congestions. These associations are

strongly linked with the city on Moskva

River, mainly in those who are dealing

with the capital city of the Russian Federation

in some way. The pictures reflect

tourist highlights and an infrastructure that

is hardly able to keep up with the city’s

traffic development.

When asked about the Russian capital

city only few will associate the skyline

of the new business district Moscow-City

with meanwhile 12 skyscrapers. Among

the ten tallest buildings in Europe seven

are located in Moscow, and all these

seven skyscrapers are part of Moscow

International Business Center (MIBC)

Moscow-City, the biggest urban development

in Europe at the start of the millennium.

The names of these skyscrapers?

The answer to this question is mostly silence.

And who is able to describe the

skyline of Moscow-City? Rather nobody.

This little test shows that pictures, associations

or perhaps preconceptions are

changing only very slowly. That during the

last 20 years there has been a construction

boom in Moscow seems to be comprehensible.

However, has there been

some kind of communication strategy?

Whether in China, USA or Western

Europe, everywhere spectacular buildings

are showcased prominently. The

most recent example is The Shard in London.

Spectacular buildings are (nearly)

always architectural masterpieces, mostly

spectacularly high but as well they often

have spectacular vacancies. But who has

already heard about Mercury City Tower

or Federation (Federazija) Tower with its

twin towers named Wostok and Sapad?

What are they representing? And what is

their function?

At this point the answer to the question

what is happening in these buildings is:

“something with banks”. That is true in

Moscow as in nearly every part of the

world. Because most capital cities are

also the commercial and financial centre

of the respective country—a fact generally

known. However, least of all are

linking the concept of a financial centre

with Moscow. The reason for that is—

strictly spoken—nearly not to express in

facts and figures. At first glance the capital

city of Russia is meeting the requirements

of an international financial centre.

But to become an international banking

and financial centre there is more to offer

than office space, achievement-oriented

people and high salaries.

But what exactly are the characteristics of

an international financing centre? Some

basic parameters are: The respective city

is headquarters of the national stock exchange

and the national bank, and it is

the network hub of international policies.

An international financial centre also has

to offer extraordinary cultural life and a

well-developed, extensive transport infrastructure

including international airports.

And the respective city should have a distinctive

skyline.

This nearly monocentric definition of an

international financial centre is mainly

about the ‘hard facts’. Nevertheless there

are still other requirements, more ‘soft

facts’ that are complementing and more

and more replacing the ‘hard facts’.

‘Soft’ are these facts called because they

are difficult to measure and furthermore

hardly to change at least in the short or

medium term. When cities almost everywhere

are offering the same quantity and

quality of ‘hard facts’ like office space,

sufficient labour force or ‘affordable’

rents, then international centres and especially

financial centres differ by aspects

as diversity, speciality and connectivity.

Looking at the international selection of

business locations or at international job

postings these three requirements can always

be found albeit in a more simple

translation: diversity means a widespread

economic structure with a business climate

that is characterized e.g. by low

density of regulations and low bureaucracy

and/or a low grade of corruption.

Speciality includes very diversified and

intensive business activities in general

and/or a special focus on a certain business,

for example on foreign exchange

trading. And connectivity is the short term

for the network connecting with other financial

centres and offering a high amount

of communication opportunities.

This outline of an international financial

centre is accompanied by other requirements

that are measurable, but seem to

have no direct context at the first glance.

These requirements are international

schools and kindergartens, leisure and

sport facilities, low crime rates and last

but not least a very open-minded atmosphere

in general. There is to discuss if

and how far all these requirements are

really fulfilled in the one or other financial

centre. However, it is fact that nearly no

international manager will go to a country

or city where everyday life for his family

is not really running. Even a very high

salary is no compensation for these deficits.

That might be one of the reasons why

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are still on their

way to become an internationally important

real estate and financial centre. At

least there the realisation of the project is

not a question of money. That might also

give Moscow a hint what is still to optimise

to be promoted to the first league.

Moscow definitely fulfils the qualifications

of an international financial centre. Although

Russian economy is still depending

on commodity markets most of the

international companies have established

an office in Moscow and especially in

Moscow-City, because MIBC is exactly

the kind of business location international

companies are familiar with at home.

Furthermore international companies

are well aware of the fact that the most

spectacular office or shopping centre locations

is standing or falling with the transport

infrastructure offering good access.

In this point a still closer cooperation of

developers and the city’s planning authorities

could be helpful, especially because

so far only 40 percent of the whole area

dedicated to MIBC Moscow-City project

are already developed. That offers

inconceivable opportunities given the

fact that Moscow-City is an inner-city

district and not a business district located—

like in many other cities—far away

from the city centre. An example of an

international business district relatively

far away from the inner city is Canary

Wharf in London. A counter-example is

La Defense in Paris, with which MIBC

Moscow-City is comparable.

Looking at the real estate market fundamentals

the schizo of the current situation

in Moscow is becoming evident. While

the development of rents, lettings and

vacancies is corresponding to other capital

cities, there is still to bridge a broad

gap regarding modern office stock. Moscow

is offering half of the office area

of Frankfurt am Main, it has a quarter of

Paris office stock or only 20 percent of

the modern office area located in New

York. Therefore it will be still a long

road: There have to be more constructions

cranes rotating in the sky and at

least there has to be a global communication

strategy to bring Moscow and

its skyline on the front pages all over the

world and to promote the city to the first

league of global capital, real estate and

financial centres.

 

(Courtesy of SPH –Schiller Publishing House )

 

Testata giornalistica non registrata ai sensi dell’Art.3 bis del D.L. 18 maggio 2012, n. 63 convertito in Legge 16.07.2012 n°103

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