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Quest Means Business
Russia Roiled By COVID And Energy Crisis; Coroner And Cadaver Dog Join Search For Brian Laundrie; Putin: Rising Gas Prices May Have "Consequences;" Russia Wants To Sell More Gas To Europe; Facebook To Change Name; St. Petersburg Wishing Well. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired October 20, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Ten o'clock at night in St. Petersburg in Russia, where we are live with QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
There is an hour to go back in New York before the close of business when trading comes to an end. Not a huge amount to talk about when you look at
the markets. They have been tootling along all day and now, 160 higher, they were up throughout the course of the session. We'll get to the reasons
why, and the main events in the day.
National non-working days and orders to stay at home. Russia is taking dramatic steps to stop the COVID surge.
One of Russia's top bankers tells me the country isn't trying to weaponize its natural gas.
And Vladimir Putin says he is sitting out COP 26.
We are alive in some Petersburg in Russia where it is 10 p.m. at night. It is Wednesday. It's October the 20th. I'm Richard Quest and in Russia, I
Good evening from St. Petersburg in Russia. We'll have all the details of that, but we're also keeping an eye on some breaking news that we will
bring to you the moment there are more developments.
We're keeping an eye on a situation that's taking place in Florida. You will be familiar with the search for Brian Laundrie. Now items of interest
have been found in the search for him. You're looking at live pictures coming to us from Sarasota County in Florida.
Those items of interest we are waiting further word of. The police are searching for Laundrie, of course, after the death of his fiancee, Gabby
Petito who was killed by strangulation.
Now specialist dogs have been brought into the scene in Florida used for searching for human remains. I assure you, whatever we're doing, we'll
bring you the latest details as and when we get to them.
While we await breaking news on that. So to the agenda tonight in Russia where Vladimir Putin is facing pivotal moments. There are two main issues -
- the COVID crisis at home and the energy crisis in Europe.
At the moment, it seems that the COVID crisis is more pressing for the Russian president. Drastic new steps have been taken to control COVID. For
instance, up to a week, paid work stoppages across the country. And here in Moscow, lockdowns for unvaccinated over 60 year olds.
Incidentally, that mandatory lockdown for the unvaccinated over 60, that is a four-month lockdown, and so on that other crisis, the energy prices.
Well, of course, energy, oil and gas is Russia's largest and most valuable export. Europe is claiming Vladimir Putin is holding and strangling the
European pipeline system. He says nothing of the sort. It is up to Europeans to get their house in order.
Whether it be COVID or the energy, they have one thing in common, the onset of winter, which believe me is well and truly on the way brings them both
QUEST (voice over): Winter is just about here. And as the mercury drops, so Russia has a decision to make. The cold weather means Europe is in need
of natural gas and that is something with which Moscow may be able to help. The question is whether Russia can and will do the job.
HELIMA CROFT, GLOBAL HEAD OF COMMODITY STRATEGY, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS: Russia, the main supplier of gas into Europe, they have struggled to meet
the demand in Europe as well. If you have a very cold winter, you could see this power crisis accelerate, a real pressure on consumers.
QUEST (voice over): The I.E.A., the International Energy Agency wants Russia to send more gas and prove themselves to be a reliable supplier.
President Vladimir Putin says that it is Europe who needs to get their house in order.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We can see where unbalanced decisions, unbalanced actions, and abrupt movements can bring
us. Today, as I said before, we can clearly see it on European energy markets.
QUEST (voice over): As the nights get longer and the temperatures drop, so energy prices go higher, and the need for a deal becomes pressing.
Approval for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which would send Russian gas straight to the E.U. is likely to become a bargaining chip.
QUEST (voice over): The French Finance Minister says Europe has allowed itself to get into a vulnerable position.
BRUNO LE MAIRE, FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER: We are too much dependent on Russia. We are too much dependent on foreign countries as far as energy is
QUEST (voice over): Despite his leverage over Europe, this will not be an easy winter either for Mr. Putin or for Russia. New restrictions have come
in this week. Daily COVID cases are at record levels, around a thousand people are dying per day. So Moscow has introduced a new four-month
lockdown for any over 60s unvaccinated.
And yet, despite being the first to approve a vaccine, Russia's vaccination rate lags behind other countries. Now President Putin is urging his
countrymen to step things up.
PUTIN (through translator): We need to increase its pace. I ask you to take an active part in this activity.
QUEST (voice over): Vladimir Putin in Russia as winter is all about decisions, about whether to help keep the lights on in Europe and COVID
under control at home.
QUEST (on camera): Now, St. Petersburg is a beautiful city at the best of times, but as the rain started to fall tonight, and people huddle home, and
new cold temperatures, you start to see the reasons and the problems when it comes to COVID.
So Russia is taking drastic action and new measures. Think about it. The number of people that died from COVID in the last 24 hours was over a
thousand. It's a record. And it's the third consecutive day of records.
And so the President has approved a nationwide nonworking week, paid days off. In some cases, it'll be seven days, some can go sooner, some areas can
go longer, from the 30th of October to November the seventh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN (through translator): It is especially important now to curb the peak of the new epidemic wave. Therefore, under the given circumstances, I
certainly support your proposal, dear colleagues, to introduce nationwide nonworking days from October 30th to November 7th with the salary being
preserved for the employees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now, our correspondent Sam Kiley is in Moscow. He joins me now. Sam, we have this nonworking week and we have in addition, this enforced
lockdown for the unvaccinated over 60s. Here in St. Petersburg, there still seems to be an air of insouciance. This is not that bad. There aren't that
many people wearing masks.
The vaccination rate is low. What's gone wrong?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think if you do talk, as I'm sure you have been Richard to local Russians all over the
country and we've been chatting to them, there is a strong suspicion. There is a natural cynicism, if you like, towards these entirely Russian
manufactured indigenous vaccines, four of them that have been approved for use here in Russia because Russia was first out of the gates with a
vaccination against COVID-19, that's still being distributed. The Sputnik vaccine and there are others, too.
There is though as deep concern and cynicism about that. There is also a cynicism about the Russian central government and its ability or even
interest in properly authenticating and testing medicines and then there's a great deal of old-fashioned superstition, just a superstition that maybe
the vaccination has somehow got some bad juju in it in a sense.
So, these are things that are combining that mean that more than two-thirds of Russians have yet to get a vaccination, Richard, and as you were saying,
with the death toll climbing over a thousand now, three days in a row.
QUEST: But, Sam, as the winter bites on and Russians who may wish to travel even to near countries will find it difficult if they are
unvaccinated. And yet so far, I mean, you've got the lockdown in Moscow for the over 60s. You've got the nonworking week.
From what you're hearing, are these likely to work?
KILEY: Well, I think the central government here and indeed the regional government in Moscow, they're both trying to use kind of nudge techniques
trying to avoid in the case of the national decisions, a nationwide locked down to try to break the cycle of infection, and here in Moscow, you're
If you are unvaccinated and over 60, you've got to go home for four months. So there's a clear incentive if you want to go out and see the
grandchildren, take a walk in the park, go and get your jabs. And they've also added to that, as of the beginning of next year, 80 percent of people
in the service industry will have to be vaccinated.
KILEY: What we're not seeing here and we've seen a similar thing play out, haven't we, in the United Kingdom, a reluctance to use more draconian
techniques such as we've seen in Israel and elsewhere where you have to show vaccination cards in order to get in and out of places and public
Here all over Moscow, people are not masked. They're attending gallery openings, going to the theater, going to the cinema, and it is spreading --
QUEST: Sam Kiley, who is in Moscow for us tonight. Sam, thank you.
As Sam was alluding to there, the skepticism over the vaccine, the government and the role in all of this is one of the reasons the
vaccination rate here in Russia is so low.
After the break, we will speak to the man who helped develop, who certainly helped pay for the development of Sputnik V. He is Kirill Dmitriev who will
join us to discuss exactly why and what, in a moment.
QUEST: Welcome back to QUEST MEANS BUSINESS live tonight from St. Petersburg.
Now Russia's President is urging its citizens to get fully vaccinated. The level of vaccination in this country is just well under 40 percent. Less
than a third in some cases of the population is vaccinated, far below the global average.
The experts are blaming poor messaging and a mistrust of the government. President Putin has approved a nationwide nonworking week to slow the
Sputnik was funded by the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The head of the fund, the Chief Executive, Kirill Dmitriev who joins me now.
Kirill, it is always good to speak to you. I'm sorry we're not in the same place at the same time, but I am at least in Russia, which allows me to say
to you, look, everybody to a person says the reason why there is no or low vaccination is because of mistrust, distrust of the government. Is that
KIRILL DMITRIEV, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, RUSSIAN DIRECT INVESTMENT FUND: Well, first of all, Richard, I would like to say that we definitely have one of
the best vaccines in the world. And Sputnik V is registered in 70 countries with a population of four billion people, more than a hundred million
people have been vaccinated with Sputnik and it shows great safety and efficacy profile.
But I think there are several reasons for vaccination rates in Russia that need to be increased, and this is Russia has really been successful in
fighting COVID before, so many people became complacent. And I do agree that we need to inform people more and more about the successes of Sputnik,
including the great safety and efficacy track records that is obvious from use of Sputnik in the world.
QUEST: But I wonder what you do, though, Kirill, bearing in mind, first of all, you know, the President has now turned to the unvaccinated over 60s,
frankly, they're the vulnerables. They were the first ones in the rest of the world. Secondly, I mean, this idea of the carrot and the stick? At what
point do you think the government uses the stick? And thirdly, what about the W.H.O. and other countries recognizing Sputnik V?
DMITRIEV: Yes. So, I think first of all, many regions already including the sort of mandatory vaccination for certain categories of people and I
think this is the right move by the regions. But again, speaking about Sputnik, I think it's very important that everybody in the world talks
about boosters and mix and match. And Sputnik was the first mix and match vaccine in the world. We were the first to recognize that boosters are
needed. And specifically so, because as you know, mRNA vaccines decline in efficacy to less than 50 percent efficacy in five months.
So Sputnik is very well accepted in the world as a standalone vaccine, also, as a booster shot to other vaccines, and we believe that we need to
work together. And we have started combo trials with other vaccines in Argentina and other places. So Sputnik is clearly one of the safest
vaccines in the world. We don't have any cases of myocarditis that some other vaccines have.
And the W.H.O. just announced that they are reengaging again and renewing their review of Sputnik. So, we expect the inspection very shortly in
Russia and we expect approval by W.H.O. in the next couple of months.
QUEST: But what I find interesting, though, is you keep -- you sort of repeat the sort of the idea that things might -- you know, we must work
harder, but for goodness sake, at this stage, 18 months in, I mean, you had the first vaccine. When you say we must work harder to make the argument,
what do you actually do to make it? It's been repeated a million times so far. The President himself has said we must do it. What more than do you
DMITRIEV: Well, Richard, first of all, it's very important to recognize some key facts. So, in Argentina that used Sputnik, you saw a major decline
in cases, 35 times in the last four months. So, we know vaccine works very well.
You also had major spikes in the U.S., in Israel, with the vaccination rates of over 70 percent and those spikes that are related to low efficacy
of mRNA vaccines five months out.
So, we have a good fundamental thing, which is a great vaccines that we believe is one of the best. Its efficacy doesn't wane as quickly as mRNA
vaccines. There are actually studies that shows that the adenoviral vaccine is eight months out show 10 times more antibodies than the mRNA vaccine.
So -- to have people be vaccinated more, and we see vaccination rates increasing already. I think delta really showed to people how dangerous
COVID is and we have no doubt that vaccination rates in Russia, you know, they'll go to 60 percent of the population in the next couple of months.
And I think we are on this way, and again, we need to fight this pandemic together. It is a great thing that as a fundamental, we have, we believe
one of the safest and most efficient vaccines in the world, and we need to use it more.
QUEST: Right. And finally, I do need to just talk to you about the wider issues as a sovereign fund and as an investment fund, and this idea of the
energy crisis and the investment environment in Russia, particularly when relations are -- I mean, these are my words, even the leaders have agreed
traditional relations between Russia, U.S. and Europe are low and not getting much better.
How concerned are you?
DMITRIEV: Well, first of all, we really see Russia as a very, you know, credible and very stable energy provider, and Russia has always been
providing gas to Europe with a very stable prices and a very stable environment. And, you know, one of the reasons there are spikes like this
is that Europe rejected some of the long-term contracts with Russia, but Russia will continue to provide energy.
Russia is to continuing to invest in, you know, regular energy projects, as well as in green energy. And I think it is very important to have dialogue,
and it is very important to have joint investments in different projects.
For example, we invest in this Finnish port in wind plants and solar plants. So we just need to have much more cooperation with Europe, much
more joint investments, and we believe it is possible and we just need to be more, you know, positive and really recognize that there is so much more
to be gained by being -- realizing projects together in the energy field as well.
QUEST: Kirill, it is good to talk to you, sir. As I say, next time, we will manage to be in the same city at the same time. And I look forward to
talking to you then. Thank you for joining us tonight on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS from cold St. Petersburg.
DMITRIEV: Thank you, Richard.
QUEST: The journalist, Alec Luhn says that the ordinary Russians seem to be the victims at the moment.
Yesterday, I was in Moscow, where he joined me for a cup of tea at a cafe on Red Square. And as we discussed -- it was colder in Moscow, by the way
than in St. Petersburg -- but as we discussed the situation, he reminded me that vaccines have been politicized.
ALEC LUHN, JOURNALIST: I think they were a victim of the political situation, specifically that new Cold War that some people talk about,
between the Russia and the West, it became a political question to have the first vaccine in the world. They rushed it through all sorts of all the
testing, started giving it to people before they'd done all the clinical trials.
As a result, people don't trust the vaccine here. They don't trust what the government is telling them about the pandemic, and they're not about to get
the shot that the government wants them to get.
QUEST: Why don't they trust it? Is it something deeper than just they think the vaccine is rushed? Do they think the government is lying to them?
Why is it?
LUHN: Well, the government is always -- the problem was there was no clear line on the pandemic here. So, at first, state media played it down. And
now finally, when we have yet another wave here and state media is saying, everyone has to get the shot, and no one believes anything anymore, because
they've been saying for a year how it wasn't a big deal this new virus; no worse than the flu.
And in the meantime, you have the government, Putin, waiting months to get the shot himself, not being clear about which shot he got until several
months after that, doing no sort of photo shoot along with that.
When people see that the leadership of the country is afraid to talk about or doesn't want to talk about getting this vaccine. Of course, they don't
want to get the vaccine themselves.
QUEST: It's not going to change? Do you see -- I mean, I see they are playing with mandates for certain state workers in this way or another, but
is there going to be -- are they going to reach herd immunity in this country?
LUHN: Not for a long time yet. Russia is a very big place, a lot of distant and remote regions where coronavirus hasn't necessarily penetrated
with the kind of level that we see here in Moscow and Petersburg.
And the vaccine -- nobody wants to get it even despite all the death and despair because it's -- you know, state media is not showing you those
pictures. You don't necessarily know that in the hospital down the street, there are people laying in the hallways on gurneys because there's no room.
QUEST: Breaking news that I promised I was going to give you, the latest details on. It is the case of this American lady, the woman, Gabby Petito.
The coroner and dogs specializing in the search for human remains have been called to a Florida Park. You can see pictures there of that now.
Authorities say they found items that were missing from the missing fiance, belonging to her and now they're searching the entire area for Brian
CNN's Randi Kaye is in Sarasota in Florida. Randi, for them to have launched this search, they must have strong reason to believe that he's
there either alive or otherwise. What is that reason?
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Richard. We know that the parents of Brian Laundrie who has been missing since they said they
last saw him on September 13th, called the F.B.I. and called North Port Police here in Florida to tell them that they wanted to search for their
son in this Myakkahatchee Park area behind me this morning.
So they came out here and law enforcement was with them, and sure enough, just off a trail that the parents say Brian Laundrie frequently hiked, they
now say according to the family attorney that they found items belonging to Brian Laundrie.
KAYE: We don't know what those items were exactly, if it was clothing or a backpack or anything, but we know that these were items according to the
family attorney that belonged to Brian Laundrie, and the F.B.I. has also confirmed that items of interest have been found here.
So, we don't know why today they decided to come to this park. It has been closed to the public. That could be part of it. And/or how they just
suddenly came upon these items.
But we do know -- and this is key -- is that the coroner from the county has been called out to this area before in all the time that they've been
searching for Brian Laundrie.
We also know that this cadaver dog is on the scene that has happened before, Richard, that dog has been out here before. But once again, it has
returned and this is a dog, Richard, that only alerts for decomposing bodies, not a human being that's on the run, not -- this is not a tracking
dog. It doesn't alert for a dead animal either, just a human being -- Richard.
QUEST: Randi, this is a major development obviously in a case that has garnered huge interest. Are we expecting to hear formally from the
authorities this afternoon?
KAYE: We certainly hope so. We are we are hoping -- we've been calling the F.B.I. We've been calling the local police department here that it was
surveilling Brian Laundrie. We do hope that we will hear from them. But the question is when, and what will they be able to tell us?
Because even if they do find human remains today, or if they have, it could take a day or so to officially identify them. But hopefully, they could
tell us, you know where these items were found and exactly what these items are because that could be very telling if Brian Laundrie was indeed out
here on September 13th when his family says he came here, then he has been in here for quite some time if he was on the run.
So what were these items? Was it evidence of possibly building some type of sleep structure? Or was it just personal items? We just don't know. So, we
do hope to hear more later on -- Richard.
QUEST: Randi, be assured, when you have more to report on this, please come back to us. We may be in St. Petersburg in Russia tonight, but we
certainly want to hear from you when there are more details on that. Thank you, Randi.
As our program tonight continues from Russia, we have a rare and good opportunity tonight to find out about the energy crisis as seen from the
An exclusive interview with the head of VTB Bank who says no, Russia isn't weaponizing oil and gas. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS continues.
QUEST: What a glorious view of St. Isaac's Cathedral in the square here in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, it is a cold night tonight and it has
started to rain. It is not windy yet. People are looking at me as I'm complaining about the cold as if, what is your problem?
I'll tell you what we have, though, we have a lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for you tonight.
The president and CEO of VTB Bank tells me President Putin is not weaponizing oil and gas against Europe.
. And one of the most famous companies in the world, Facebook, might be about to do an Alphabet, so to speak, change its name.
Why would they do that?
In fact, we'll discuss it after I've given you the news headlines because this is CNN and, on this network, the news always comes first.
QUEST (voice-over): The U.K. health secretary said the government is not ready to reimpose COVID restrictions in response to rising cases. He says
the country will stay vigilant and strengthen its current defenses. He announced deals for later on when he said this would not be the way
More news for you just in a second.
QUEST (voice-over): The United Nations Security Council is meeting behind closed doors today to discuss North Korea's latest missile test. Pyongyang
said it launched a new ballistic missile from a submarine and released these images.
The test took place on Tuesday near the port city of Sinpo.
Russia's president Vladimir Putin will not attend COP26 climate summit next month in Glasgow. The Russian president might join via video link. The
government says Russia will take part though, regardless.
QUEST: In the United States, oil prices have hit a seven-year high. That means $84 a barrel and the prospect of higher prices looms ever larger. It
is more than a double than it was a year ago.
Russia, of course, holds the key to Europe's current energy crisis, the ability to pump more. However, Russia said it is fulfilling all its
Europe said, of course, that it needs more oil and gas and that Russia and others need to pump.
So far, though, Russia, under President Putin, has resisted. The chairman of VTB Bank said that Russia is not weaponizing the energy supply. He's
among Russia's most powerful bankers. Yesterday I was in Moscow. I went to the extraordinarily glamorous headquarters, where I met Andrey Kostin and
wanted to know what was going on.
Was Russia using oil and gas against Europe?
ANDREY KOSTIN, PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN, VTB BANK: Everybody should understand, we are interested in selling gas because that is all about our
economy. We mainly, you know, 75 percent of our export to Europe -- and Europe one of our largest trading partner -- that is resources, that is
mainly oil and gas. So if -- that is why America for example is battling against Nord Stream 2.
KOSTIN: They don't want Russia to sell gas but we want to sell. So I think it is very difficult to say that Russia is doing something, you know, to
break the system which exists. And Russia will export this year so I understand more gas than anytime before.
QUEST: Yes, but Russia could pump all of the gas and Europe could need more. And it is that little bit at the top, that extra bit, that could
become the geopolitical issue, weaponizing oil and gas.
KOSTIN: You know, I don't believe that Russia is weaponizing any economic tools; unlike America, weaponizing dollar. We don't do it. We're interested
in stability of the market. As we proved, with OPEC, for example, we negotiated with OPEC, together with the United States, by the way, in order
to settle the price dispute.
And then everybody, all exporters won at the end of the day. We have got now a stable and growing oil prices. The same with the gas. It is a number
of reasons. The first are probably Europe was trying for the size and this battle for Nord Stream 2 but also that Europe probably was too quick in
trying to switch from carbon energy to renewable sources.
And unfortunately, there was no wind in Europe this year. That is partly explained the problem. But we're trying to increase. I think we -- what I
said I think is true. We fulfilled all of the contracts and we're trying to increase our -- the sale. So let's have us a look and see what is going to
QUEST: Why do you think Russia has a -- such a low vaccination rate at the moment?
KOSTIN: It is very much because of the people's attitude, I think. They prefer -- I mean, one of my friends, who is -- has a very high position in
business, say, you know, why I should myself bring this disease through vaccination, because it is a small -- it is a small implementation of this.
If it happens, it happens. Or maybe it will not happen. So this probably thinking is, you know, as people they -- they don't very much trust maybe
QUEST: What do you say to people who say that?
KOSTIN: Well, I mean, I say, look, it is a very bad disease. You could have a very bad consequence. There is no record of any bad consequences for
this so you better take a chance.
QUEST: The other issue that people are talking about at the moment is working from home. Now there is a wave of COVID at the moment in Russia. So
you have gotten the bank and many of your staff working from home.
QUEST: In future, are you looking at shifting the work balance to allow more people to -- ?
KOSTIN: Not very much. I read in American newspapers that most of the American leading banks, they said enough is enough and people should come
back in office.
I'm supporter of the office work. I feel my staff, when they are here; when it is online system, I think I don't -- I don't have such a level of
command of governance. But we should accept that, of course, for certain, for certain people, of course, for certain part of the staff, it is
possible in certain areas.
The I.T. people, they like to work from home. I can't myself. For me, it is a nightmare to work at home because it is -- the dog is here, the children
there, the wife behind you. It is terrible. And the fridge. You could always open the fridge. That is a terrible thing.
QUEST: The relationship between the U.S. and Russia is just dreadful.
KOSTIN: What -- we don't have any -- only sanctions, expulsions. Well, we had the meeting between two presidents, which was reasonable, I think,
positive, I would say. But we didn't see much except, our friend of Russian, Ms. Newland (ph), visiting Russia recently, which I also think
went reasonably good. We shall see.
We understand that we can't achieve a lot now quickly. But step by step, maybe climate change, maybe strategic stability, maybe certain areas where
American side still believe it will be useful to work with Russia because of the world needs it. It is two issues, the world's peace and prosperity
depends on this, the strategic stability and climate change.
QUEST: Forgive me. Let me be blunt.
QUEST: Vladimir Putin picks up the phone and, said Kostin, do this or makes it known. He wants Kostin to do this in the bank.
Is that how it works?
KOSTIN: Never, never. Look, I became a chairman of the bank, not by this but the previous bank position was the same before Mr. Putin came to power,
four years before. And so I've been in banking for 30 years. And I can swear Mr. Putin never gave me instructions which loan I should give to
which company, never.
QUEST: Please tell me, what is that music?
KOSTIN: That is from "The Godfather, of course."
QUEST: You play "The Godfather" in the elevator?
KOSTIN: It is my favorite film. I think that the Corleone family had the best corporate governance, you know, system. So it worked very, very
QUEST: He really plays "The Godfather" music in the --
KOSTIN: -- the system, of course, in the bank nowadays.
Where are we?
KOSTIN: That is our trading floor. We're doing everything here, derivatives, Forex, stocks, fixed income. Everything is done here. There is
hundreds of people working.
QUEST: Trading floors are always very expensive. And -- but it is the heart of the bank, in a sense.
KOSTIN: Our profit this year, $4 billion and as return equity, 80 percent so we could afford it.
QUEST: So what do you like in the market at the moment?
Which areas do you believe are good?
Because the market, equities are frothy.
But what do you like?
KOSTIN: What is interesting now, that after the Russian companies started to come back to IPO market or SPO market, in 2018, we have none. But at
moment there is a growing number. Very successful Russian digital companies, very successful. And they are very good. They are sold in
America and Britain, everywhere, that's digital companies, e-commerce particularly and some others.
And I think that is a big, big chances of making more.
QUEST: Do you come down here much?
KOSTIN: I do. I do. But not too much because, now with the digital things, you can see it all on the screen.
QUEST: You're a banker, though, rather than a trader?
KOSTIN: Yes. I'm not even the banker very much. But because of my -- that is Russia. I was converted from diplomatic work to the banker. But it was
already 30 years ago, so yes, I could say, during the 30 years, I've got some experience and some knowledge of this.
QUEST: And if you're not a banker now, God help you.
Andrey Kostin talking to me yesterday.
And believe me, in the executive elevator, the music, "The Godfather" is playing.
Now where are we tonight?
Obviously we're in St. Petersburg, that much is clear. But we're in the Astoria Hotel, which is part of the Rocco Forte group. And one of the
reasons we're here is because, if the walls could talk, this hotel -- it is not just a hotel, it is part of the history of this city.
It opened in 1912, so five years before the first part of the revolution. It served its part during the siege of Leningrad during World War II. It
was a hospital here and here it treated writers, artists and musicians, who were trapped during that awful three year period, that horrific time,
trapped by the Nazi forces.
And legend has it that Adolf Hitler had planned to hold the victory party here if he had succeeded in capturing the city.
More recently, the hotel featured in movies, such as the 1995 James Bond film, "GoldenEye," and I'm sure they will be deeply proud to say that they
were also the home for a night of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
We have no intention of changing our name. No, that much is absolutely clear, unlike Facebook, where the rumor has it that Facebook is going to
change its name. We need to talk about that after the break. I assume they'll change the corporate group, a bit like Google and Alphabet. Maybe
more. Stay tuned. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we're keeping it.
QUEST: There are reports that Facebook could change its name, as the company pushes into VR and Metaverse. Remember we told you the other day
about employing 10,000 new people in Europe.
So the question at the group level is whether you really want to be called Facebook when there are so many other aspects to it.
Alex Heath with is me, he's a senior reporter for "The Verge," which first broke the story.
So, Alex, is this a defensive move to sort of try and shimmy away from Facebook or is it a move, assuming that it happens and they do announce it?
Or is it a move to delineate and make it clear what this does and doesn't do?
ALEX HEATH, SENIOR REPORTER, "THE VERGE": I think it is a little bit of both. I think they want to signal that they are a company that is about
much more than social media and all of the ills that that entails, which we've seen dramatically play out in Congress here in U.S. and now in parts
of the Europe, with Frances Haugen, the ex-employee, who leaked a bunch of internal documents that are, frankly, pretty damning about the platform's
effect on the world.
And what Facebook is hoping to do -- and this is about renaming the parent company's corporate brand -- so the Facebook app that we all know will
still be called Facebook. It will still be the blue app.
But the holding company, that includes Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus, is about to undergo a significant rebrand that focuses more on the concept of
the Metaverse, which is something that Mark Zuckerberg has been talking about quite a bit, even as all of this other controversy has been swirling.
QUEST: One wonders just how deep the problems of Facebook are. I mean, this is -- I could see this valid reasons for doing what they're doing now.
But you look at the number of problems and yet, at the same time, Alex, the share price does not dramatically suffer, other than a bounce on the day.
HEATH: That is right. If you will remember, there was a massive advertiser boycott of Facebook about a year ago, where a lot of biggest brands in the
world boycotted the service over objections to hate speech on the platform. It didn't hurt revenue at all.
And Facebook's revenue has continued to grow. I do think they will actually be hurt when they report earnings next week by changes that Apple has made
to how ads can be tracked on iPhones. A lot of people have seen prompts, saying do you want to be tracked when you open an app.
That is going to significantly slow I think Facebook's ability to grow ad revenue on that platform. But this stuff surrounding hate speech, the
research on teenagers that Frances Haugen testified, it is not hurting the stock, at least not yet.
QUEST: Right. Sir, thank you for joining us. We'll talk more when it is announced and as the Facebook trials and tribulations continue.
QUEST: In a moment, after the break, something we would never tell to you do on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Throw good money away. But I promise you we're
going to show you how people are doing it here in St. Petersburg and guess what, I even did it myself, throwing money away. But that is after Eleni
Giokos has "CONNECTING AFRICA."
QUEST: Can you imagine me, throwing away good money?
I've only got two words for you: Chizhik Pyzhik.
QUEST (voice-over): I've got two words for you: Chizhik Pyzhik.
You see that sparrow down there?
The goal is to land a coin on it. Chizhik Pyzhik. If you succeed, you get your wish. If you don't, you just have thrown money into water. Chizhik
It made a nice satisfying plunk but that was when it went into the water.
QUEST (voice-over): There is always someone looking to try their luck, be it, young or old. Funny here, people don't seem to mind that you won't and
even can't get your money back.
QUEST: This is classic. You have got groups of people throwing money into the water. People are literally throwing money away.
QUEST (voice-over): Like most things, there is a knack to it. It takes a while and several coins to figure it out.
QUEST: Oh, nearly.
Yes! Oh, well done. Two! She got two. That is what you call raw luck.
QUEST (voice-over): A few wayward rubles into the water and, yes, successful shots.
Yes, Chizhik Pyzhik!
QUEST (voice-over): Before my wallet gets any lighter and hope that the sparrow grants my wishes. Tweet, tweet.
QUEST: Chizhik Pyzhik, Chizhik Pyzhik, Chizhik Pyzhik.
QUEST: And what I wished for is between me and the sparrow. "Profitable Moment" after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment" from Moscow: where does Russia stand in the world at this important inflection point?
I beg to suggest it is the ultimate disruptor. The United States has made it clear, it is principal foreign policy goals, if you will, now relate to
China and it has got Russia wondering, what next.
Well, whenever you look, Russia is involved.
Take the oil and gas crisis in Europe. It doesn't matter why but the result is it gives President Putin the whip geopolitical hand. And it is the same
in the Middle East, in markets; it really is of no concern what the issue, Russia will somehow be disrupting it.
And that's why Western governments ignore Russia at their peril.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for this evening. I'm Richard Quest in St. Petersburg, Russia. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's
profitable. I'll see you next week.