Putin questions lavish corporate New Year’s parties

A fancy party for a few hundreds of people should draw everybody together. Source: Getty Images / Fotobank

A fancy party for a few hundreds of people should draw everybody together. Source: Getty Images / Fotobank

One of the main New Year’s traditions in Russia is throwing corporate parties on a large scale, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. This year President Putin has decided to seriously question this tradition.

Experts say that a New Year’s office party is an inevitable termination of the year for 75 percent of all employers. This concerns not only Russian companies, but also representative offices of foreign companies. A fancy party for a few hundreds of people should not only draw everybody together, it also demonstrates how great the company’s profits are.

But this year all the millions which were spent on corporate parties of state-owned companies have caught the attention of President Vladimir Putin.

How much does a holiday celebration cost?

Rent of space in December in Moscow center – starting from $30,000;

Food, drinks, service– $240 to $300 per head;

Entertainment program:

Russian pop-stars – around $100,000 to $200,000;

Teen pop-stars – around $20,000;

“I think the issue of whether too much or too little was spent on a corporate party is a bit odd. They should spend whatever amount they want,” Putin has said. “But everybody should chip in and throw a corporate party together, just like in the old times.”

But if private companies try to withhold information about their corporate party budgets, government institutions leave nothing to the imagination.

Requests for assistance in party celebrations are posted on the website for state procurements, where the party-throwers are revealed. According to the evaluation of analysts from the website Za chestniye zakupki (For bona fide procurements) offshoots of major state corporations were ready to spend $600,000 and some even $1,500,000.

The overall champion could have been the largest state bank, Sberbank. According to the People’s Front for Russia, the bank has placed a $1,951,219 request for three corporate parties on the website for state procurements.

Telecommunication giant Rostelekom has also decided to celebrate New Year’s on a truly large scale. They are going to spend more than $1,000,000 on a banquet for 1,700 employees.

Bank of Moscow is set to spend $576,000 on a party with famous pop stars, four orchestras and various special effects, including fake snow and smoke in the program and a special laser show. In all the experts from People’s Front for Russia have analyzed 30 state- owned companies, which together will spend more than $10,900,000 on corporate parties.

Rosoboronexport is also spending a lot on various gastronomic specialties to duly celebrate the New Year. The state corporation is spending $762,000 only on food and alcohol. But it appears that everything that has been ordered for the celebration will also serve as a table decoration – a real attention grabber.

For example, a few bottles of elite cognac have been ordered in special bottles, which cost more than $1,900 because they are encrusted with 24 karat gold.

Everybody loves a good entertainment program during parties.

This year Gazprom has decided to celebrate without any extravagances, but nevertheless with class. The event was held in their central office – it was a theme-party. Everything was held in an exquisite Indian style, so there was a dress code. The women were obliged to wear big chunky jewelry and saris, and the men had to come in traditional turbans.

In 2009 Sberbank also held a theme-party, and constructed a circus arena in the space they rented. Before officially starting the party the head of the bank German Gref entered on top of a horse clad in traditional hussar clothing.

In 2012 a business company decided to use the circus theme in their holiday celebrations. The Kaspersky Lab organized a show, which was held like a real Cirque du Soleil performance.

The major state-owned companies have instantly reacted to the Putin’s statements on holiday parties. The ones who decided not to organize corporate parties were the ones with records of party budgets who at first wanted to organize huge celebrations – Sberbank and Rostelekom.

Russian Railways also decided to celebrate this year, although in the beginning they were ready to spend $1,600,000. Russian Post, industrial giant Rostec and United Aircraft Corporation have also had a change of plans. These state-owned companies have decided either not to have a corporate party at all or offered their employees to pay for it themselves.

Then again, even without the presidential remarks this year there are many companies that have decided to save some money on their celebrations, event-managers say.

“This year there has been a tendency of cutting budgets. Even the biggest companies who should be interested in non-financial motivation of staff still chose to save money while organizing corporate parties; they demand agencies to make miracles happen practically for free,” said Olga Vepretskaya, the head of Smart & Motion agency.

According to her evaluation, every third company has budgets that are 40 percent less than last year.

It should be noted that not only Russian companies are in their saving mode – representative offices of foreign companies, too.

“For example, last year one company decided to hold a themed New Year’s party in an expensive club. The theme was Great Gatsby, which involved big expenditures on décor. This year that same company is looking for space on semi-barter conditions and are asking their employees to work as DJ’s,” Vepretskaya said.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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