Sergey Khotimsky is known as a successful businessman, co-founder and first deputy chairman of the board of Sovcombank. This is a man who, thanks to his own determination, not only created a profitable banking business from scratch, but also found a way to stand out among competitors even in such a specialized niche.
Childhood and youth
Khotimsky Sergey Vladimirovich was born in Moscow on April 12, 1978. When it came to choosing a future profession, the young man preferred law and entered the Moscow International University. However, already at that time, Sergey Khotimsky dreamed of starting his own business and seeing his name on the Forbes cherished list. In an interview, the businessman recalled that at the age of 14 he did not miss the chance to earn extra money: he stood in long lines instead of the others.
After graduating from the university, Khotimsky began to help his brother Dmitry, who at that time already managed several production plants. This became an indispensable practice for the future banker, who taught how to quickly make the right decisions and respond to changing situations.
It is interesting that Sergei Khotimsky could build a career in cinema: in the early 2000s, Sergei Vladimirovich became the producer of a cult comedy film called "DMB" with Ivan Okhlobystin, Stanislav Duzhnikov, Alexei Panin. But fate decreed otherwise, and the further biography of Sergey Khotimsky turned out to be connected with a more serious, although sometimes no less creative business.
In 2001, Sergey Khotimsky with a friend and colleague Mikhail Klyukin bought a small bank in the Kostroma region. “Buykombank” - the so-called acquisition of friends - later received the name “Sovkombank”. Soon the small-town business expanded and began to compete with serious federal banks.
Sergei Khotimsky himself believes that such a success did not happen by chance, but was the result of serious work and knowledge of his industry.
So, both Sergey Vladimirovich and his brother Dmitry, constantly monitor the situation in the banking industry and the financial market, monitor the economic situation in the country and are constantly ready to take responsibility for the necessary decisions. It was also important that the key shareholders of the bank took up management posts and directly monitor the work of the entire structure.
Banker Sergey Khotimsky
Of course, the path of businessmen to success and stability was not smooth. So, in 2008, bankers faced serious losses, entrusting some aspects of the business to a third-party company. The conclusions were correct: since then, Sergey Khotimsky and his partners trust only Sovcombank’s own professionals.
It is noteworthy that Sovcombank was perhaps the first bank to abandon its huge client offices. Sergei Khotimsky preferred to work differently. Small offices were opened in the cities (literally 7-10 square meters). This space was enough to install the necessary equipment for a couple of employees and immediately begin work. This decision allowed Sovcombank to stand on a par with the leaders in the banking sector of that time.
Bank of Sergey Khotimsky "Sovcombank"
Another non-standard option for the development of the bank was the orientation to work with people of retirement age. The fact is that most banks prefer to work with younger, still working citizens. But Sergey Khotimsky reasoned that with this approach there remains a huge number of clients who can be made your own.
As it turned out later, Sergei Vladimirovich did not fail: the elderly turned out to be grateful and, most importantly, reliable customers. According to statistics, pensioners are responsible for paying loans, try not to delay payments. In addition, getting used to one bank, they rarely change it to another, which is also important in terms of business development. The Bank, in turn, is doing everything to make pensioners comfortable in any branch.
Entrepreneur Sergey Khotimsky
In 2015, the management of Sovcombank decided to expand the list of company services. The bank began to develop collateral lending and work with mortgages and car loans. The endeavors turned out to be successful, and two years later Sovcombank took fourth place in the list of banks working with car loans (according to the Internet portal Bank.ru). In addition, the analytical agency Rusipoteka gave Sovcombank the 11th line in the list of banks that issued the largest amounts for mortgages.
Sergei Khotimsky does not forget about charity: a man founded a foundation called the Future Now. Fund employees help orphans, as well as families who take such children to be raised.
The personal life of Sergei Khotimsky was happy, but the man prefers not to spread about her details. It is known that Sergei Vladimirovich has a wife and two daughters.
Sergey Khotimsky with his wife and children
Sergei Khotimsky prefers to devote his free time to his family, loved ones and a non-trivial hobby: a banker collects canes, collecting original and simply rare samples of this forgotten accessory.
Sergey Khotimsky now
In 2017, Sergey Khotimsky and colleagues again pleased Sovcombank customers with another innovation: the bank issued a Halva card. This card allows you to make installment purchases. Halva quickly became popular, a little more than a year, the bank's customers managed to evaluate its advantages. Now it can rightly be called a breakthrough in the field of credit cards.
The further plans of Sergey Khotimsky and the Sovcombank team are not yet known, however, perhaps in 2018 the banker's photos will appear again in news feeds in connection with another original innovation.
In March 2000, visitors to the newly opened Moscow’s first Karo multiplex watched on the big screen as the admiral, who had a good drink on a hunt, dashed headlong through the bushes for a heavy soldier named Bomb depicting a boar. The film was called “DMB”, the audience was delighted with it: the Polygon studio alone earned about $ 300,000 on cassettes by investing $ 120,000 in shooting and advertising. For the 22-year-old co-owner of the Polygon, Sergey Khotimsky, it was a resounding success. And he decided to film the novel by Sergei Lukyanenko “Night Watch”. Later, the writer recalled that he was shocked by the proposed slogan "Peter is a gangster, and Moscow is a vampire." As a result, ORT got the rights to Night Watch, and Khotimsky, having lost money on several unsuccessful films, such as, for example, The Theory of Drunkenness, moved away from the cinema by the mid 2000s.
He had something to do. Back in 2001, Khotimsky, along with friends Vasily and Mikhail Klyukin, who graduated from the Financial Academy under the Government of the Russian Federation, thought about buying a bank. Vasily Klyukin says that they, having worked as hired managers in several banks, wanted independence. Khotimsky recalls that at first it was a straightforward transaction: to buy a small bank for $ 300,000, transfer it to Moscow, obtain a foreign exchange license and sell it for $ 1 million. Such a bank was found in the Kostroma region - partners purchased BuyCombank with a license, but almost no assets. After the purchase, it was renamed Sovcombank, which, according to friends, should have been solidified and reliable for customers.
Around the bank a friendly company was formed of graduates of the same Financial Academy, many of them, becoming entrepreneurs, came to the bank as customers or even bought a share in it. Each shareholder received equal rights when making decisions by the credit committee. And this feature has been preserved in the bank until now.
Vasily Klyukin recalls that Sovcombank worked on attracting customers according to network marketing schemes: “More and more new customers, including the customers themselves, brought us. “They dragged us a bunch of ideas, projects on which we could make money, knowing that we always share our profits.”
One of the clients once invited Sovcombank owners to meet with representatives of the Dutch-Israeli investment group Kardan. It was the summer of 2007, and Vasily Klyukin came to the meeting in shorts. He found out that Kardan manages assets in finance, real estate and infrastructure construction around the world for € 3.4 billion, and in Siberia the group owns the ARKA credit network with a large number of points of sale (about a thousand). “ARKA worked with 15 banks,” recalls Sergey Khotimsky. - She received a large commission, but at the same time took all the risk. And at some point they wanted to build their own bank. ” ARKA, and so, in fact, was a bank and, attracting money from other banks at 18–20% per annum, issued them to individuals with small loans at 30–36% per annum, says Klyukin. Khotimsky and his partners then looked for opportunities for further growth - Sovcombank remained an inconspicuous regional bank and could not withstand competition with major players.
The parties shook hands and began to build a retail bank. Kardan TBIF's subsidiary (combining assets in the banking sector and asset management) received 50% in it, depositing 100% of ARKA and about $ 65 million in cash. Khotimsky, Klyukins and partners registered their shares through the Dutch SovCo Capital Partners.
Soon, Khotimsky says, it turned out that expectations do not coincide with reality, and ARKA management does not understand anything about banking risks: “In 2008, we lost about $ 50 million, half of the capital, and decided that we needed to build our own competencies.” The bank lowered its deposit rate, sharply increasing its margin. By mid-2009, Sovcombank had hired a team from Citibank, drove out all the “brilliant mathematicians” and by the fourth quarter had already gained a plus in retail.
Soon, the concept of the bank for the elderly was formed - it turned out that they were the most responsible payers. In accordance with this concept, Sovcombank began to actively open points of sale in small cities where only Sberbank competed with it, in most cases working on a shorter schedule. By 2009, Sovcom's network consisted of 150 additional offices and 600 points of sale in 24 regions. All this time TBIF remained an equal partner of the Khotimskys.
Recalling those times, Sergey Khotimsky said that the bank had another development path: “It was possible to create a development company - at that time every waiter in Moscow was a developer, but we were scared.” However, the bank did not stay away from a large construction site.
The charm of skyscrapers
The sky over the California Mojave Desert was lit up by a short flash when the SpaceShipTwo suborbital ship, which conducted a test flight in October 2014, separated from the carrier platform and began to gain speed, but after a few seconds it fell apart into several parts in the sky. One of the pilots managed to catapult, the body of the second had to be removed from the wreckage.
Soon, the company Virgin Galactic billionaire Richard Branson, which owned the ship, sent a message about the tragedy to the mail of Vasily Klyukin. For Klyukin, this was shocking news - in a few months he himself was to become a passenger of SpaceShipTwo. The businessman bought a ticket to space from Virgin for € 1.2 million at a charity auction a year and a half before the tragedy. He was supposed to be composed by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, but after the disaster, the dream of a space trip had to be postponed.
By that time, Klyukin had already moved from Russia to Monaco, wrote books and created projects of fantastic skyscrapers on paper. He retired from managing Sovkombank shortly after the deal with Kardan, taking up real estate with his brother. Sergey Khotimsky and Dmitry Gusev, another graduate of the Financial Academy who came to the bank in 2007 from Deloitte, took control of the operations. And Klyukin, along with his brother, began to create a real estate fund, including for clients and shareholders of Sovcombank.
The fund became one of the first investors in the Federation complex, having bought the 45th floor in the Zapad tower from Mirax Sergey Polonsky. The cost of 1 square. m then amounted to $ 4000, partners offered $ 4500, but with the condition that they pay first 10%, the rest - after receiving a certificate of registration. The deal turned out to be profitable - by the time the certificate was received, prices had already jumped to $ 14,000 per meter.
When Polonsky started having financial problems in 2009, there was a reason to get to know the eccentric developer personally. Mirax did not have enough money to complete the Well House residential complex on Leninsky Prospekt. Klyukin offered to help. Secured by two floors in the Federation, Sovcombank opened a credit line for Well House, and the Klyukins bought through the fund at cost price unsold apartments in the complex, which Mirax could buy back. “As good businessmen, Sovcombank shareholders were able to discern the investment opportunity in Polonsky’s problems,” admits the former top manager of Mirax. - They did not wring their hands at all, they only offered financing through repurchase agreements with the right to buy back when there were problems with other banks. But since the situation did not get better for Mirax, part of the assets eventually passed to them. ”
Klyukin recalls that Mirax took $ 10 million from Sovcombank's credit line and bought most of the apartments in the complex. And the 29th floor of the Vostok tower went off at a reduced price to the Sovcombank shareholders fund - as it turned out later, without utilities. “Vostok Tower turned out to be just a concrete, partially glazed frame. Without elevators, heating, water, light, and with an elevator shaft looking up at the sky, ”recalls Klyukin. He again offered Polonsky financial assistance - and, recalls the former top manager of Mirax, he was able to arrange for all communications expenses to be compensated for. According to a Forbes source, the deal was structured as follows: the Klyukins fund bought a pool of apartments in the neighboring Zapad tower from Mirax, while part of the money went to the corporation's current expenses (for example, paying salaries), and part to the construction of communications. Vasily Klyukin now estimates the value of the transaction at $ 7 million. Polonsky declined to comment for this article.
In 2010, Klyukin decided to sell the shares of Sovcombank, he paid with it, including in units of the created real estate fund. The bank had the opportunity to continue to support Mirax, but in the end it was considered too risky. And Sovkombank became interested in the developer of Ukrainian origin Pavel Fuchs. In 2010, the project portfolio of his company MocCityGroup amounted to about 7 million square meters. m, she built two skyscrapers in the City at once - “Eurasia” and “Empire”.
The new shareholder arrived on time. During the crisis, TBIF capitalized Sovcombank, increasing its stake to 66%. Khotimsky and his partners had an option in which they could again achieve parity, but there was no money to buy back the stake. Fuchs helped to realize the option - for 16% Kardan group received € 36 million. Kardan completely withdrew from the capital of Sovcombank in the spring of 2012, received another € 123 million for its share, and eventually earned € 59 million (Kardan later valued all its investments in Sovcombank € 100 million excluding dividends).
We profit from the crisis
At the end of October 2013, a delegation of the Russian business association Leaders Club arrived in Abu Dhabi. At one of the evening cocktails, while the sheikhs were slowly getting to know Russian businessmen, the club's chairman, Artem Avetisyan, took the Russian ambassador to the UAE and handed him the book “Profiting from the Crisis of Capitalism” written by Dmitry Khotimsky, the elder brother of the founder of Sovcombank.Avetisyan is also a graduate of the Finance Academy, he is well acquainted with Sovcombank shareholders, in 2010 they helped him start his career as a banker by selling him a stake in Regional Credit Bank, which was acquired from Kardan. For a long time, the book in which Dmitry Khotimsky shares his many years of experience in financial investments was Avetisyan’s constant companion on his many business trips, for example, to California or the Czech Republic.
From the beginning of the 1990s, Dmitry Khotimsky tried himself in many businesses, for example, lending to vodka dealers and developing dairy plants, which he then sold to Wimm-Bill-Dann and Unimilk. In the 2000s, he founded the IGI hedge fund in the United States, but went bankrupt in 2008. “The value of assets has become less than the value of my debts,” recalls Khotimsky Sr. “So I became an unemployed bankrupt.” He returned to Russia, and at the beginning of 2009 his younger brother turned to him and asked him to look at the bonds of Russian Standard Bank, whose price fell to a third of the face value due to the crisis. The brothers decided to take a chance and bought securities for $ 20 million. A year later, the bonds recovered in price, the bank sold them for $ 40 million, receiving another $ 5 million as interest. “It turned out that I was no longer bankrupt, and Sovcombank, despite some problems in retail, made good money,” recalls Dmitry Khotimsky. After that, he began to work in a bank.
Sovcombank turned a similar trick with bonds in December 2014, when the ruble fell almost twice, the Bank of Russia raised its key rate by 6.5 pp, to 17% per annum, and panic reigned in the market. The Bank’s Supervisory Board has revised the limits for the largest bond issuers. After waiting for the foreigners to return from their winter holidays, the treasury of Sovcombank bought up $ 500 million worth of cheaper bonds of Russian issuers over the week of January 2, 2015 and by the end of the month the bank had earned $ 50 million due to their growth.
The bank did not stop there. According to the results of nine months of 2017, on its balance sheet were bonds worth about 330 billion rubles - almost 53% of the bank's assets. Sovcombank not only buys securities on the market, according to the Cbonds portal, Sovcombank took fourth place among the organizers of bond loans in 2017. “Over the past three years, we have earned the most on bonds,” admits Dmitry Gusev, the board of directors of Sovcombank. “Now we are as interested as possible in organizing bond issues for our clients and buying part of them in our portfolio.” According to Mikhail Doronkin, an expert at ACRA's bank rating group, Sovcombank was one of the first in the Russian market to bet on replacing corporate loans with bonds. “For a bank that cannot compete with state-owned banks in terms of funding costs, such a step is a good opportunity to enter the corporate segment at affordable rates and with little risk,” said Doronkin. Active work with bonds helped the bank, which used to rely on household deposits, diversify funding sources through repo transactions with other banks.
When did the bank for retirees have an interest in the corporate segment? It all happened in the same 2014, which the Khotimskys started with one of the main deals in their lives. In February, a couple of weeks before Russia's accession to Crimea, they bought GM Money from General Electric Corporation, which disposed of financial assets around the world. Sovcombank has long been eyeing GM Mani, among the applicants for the asset were also called NPF Blagosostoyanie and banker Igor Kim. Almost 5 billion rubles had to be paid for the bank; Sovcombank did not have enough money. In order not to miss the opportunity, the Khotimskys again took advantage of the help of one of the partners: the bank carried out an additional issue of 2 billion rubles, most of which was bought by Alexey Fisun, one of the owners of the Riga-Land Business Center, after which his stake in Sovcombank increased from 5.96% up to 16%.
GM Money was significantly smaller than Sovcombank, its assets amounted to 26 billion rubles, while the Khotimsky bank alone had a loan portfolio of more than 60 billion rubles. But the main value of GM Money was in a network of branches, opened mainly in cities with a population of over one million, where Sovcombank had not been present before. “It was an absolutely transformational deal that greatly enhanced our retail competencies,” recalls Khotimsky Jr.
Immediately after the purchase of GM Money, the Khotimskys realized that it was too risky to stay in retail - the market slipped into a crisis that deepened when the decline in income began. The bank headed for work with the largest Russian companies and at the end of 2015 increased its corporate loan portfolio from 9 billion rubles to 50.6 billion rubles. The bank issued another 47.7 billion rubles to the regions. Sergey Khotimsky explains this rapid growth by the vacuum that arose in the market after interest rates rose sharply and state-owned banks took a break to work out a new credit policy. “In 2015, for seven to eight months, we collected a huge portfolio at electronic auctions,” says Khotimsky Jr. about working with regional administrations and municipalities.
Sovcombank acquired a taste for M&A transactions. After the deal with GE, the Khotimsky continued to buy up the assets of foreign banks leaving Russia. In 2015-2016, Sovcombank spent about $ 70 million on the repurchase of ICIC Bank (renamed SKIB) from the Indian group of the same name and Guaranty Bank - Moscow, Turkish Garanti Bankasi. In addition, Sovcombank bought a portfolio of mortgages worth 16 billion rubles from Nordea Bank, and from its client Severstal acquired Metcombank with a portfolio of car loans worth 21 billion rubles. The deal with Severstal was estimated at 2.9 billion rubles. At the beginning of 2017, Sovcombank's assets amounted to 565 billion rubles - over 4 years they have more than quadrupled.
Bankers with a polygraph
“A thief should be in jail!” - Sergey Khotimsky wrote on Oleg Tinkov's facebook in capital letters when he decided to share his thoughts on the collapse of the Life banking group. Khotimsky is well acquainted with the billionaire: in 2010 Sovcombank and its shareholders bought back the entire debut issue of Tinkoff Credit Systems bank bonds for 4.5 billion rubles.
Khotimsky is also aware of the situation in the Life group. The Central Bank revoked the license from Probusinessbank (the head of the group) in August 2015 and soon revealed theft of 34 billion rubles in it. Nevertheless, Sovcombank decided to rehabilitate one of the banks of the Express-Volga group and in September 2015 received a ten-year loan of 49.9 billion rubles from the Deposit Insurance Agency at 0.51% per annum. “The banks of the Life group had a specific situation. They were pretty good banks, they didn’t steal anything, ”Dmitry Gusev explains. “The shareholder simply said to them: bring all the money through the interbank to Probusinessbank, which just stole everything.”
Withdrawal of assets is a painful topic for Sovcombank shareholders. The Khotimsky consider their main loss to be the purchase of bonds of Peresvet Bank, whose shareholders were the structures of the Russian Orthodox Church and Expocenter. In the fall of 2016, the head of Peresvet Alexander Shvets disappeared, and a hole of 107 billion rubles was discovered in the bank. Having lost 4 billion rubles of capital on Peresvet papers, Sovcombank shareholders for a long time did not understand what they had lost sight of: they met with Shvets more than once (he made a good impression) and looked at the largest Peresvet loans. They try to avoid theft in their own bank with the help of a polygraph. “A polygraph is a must if you work with money,” says Sergey Khotimsky. - Someone believes that this is a form of terror against employees on the part of the owners, but this is not so, it is a thing that 100% serves the interests of employees. In the event of a loss, there is always a suspicion whether it was a credit risk, operational, or someone deliberately stole. Using a polygraph, you clear people of suspicion. Therefore, a polygraph is a wonderful thing that allows you to maintain the joy of communication. What can be the joy of communication if you suspect every fifth? ”
Sovcombank treats its own shareholders no less strictly. “We have 15 shareholders in the bank,” says Gusev. “And if I, as a shareholder, want to take money for some of my projects, how can I make everyone else comfortable, how can I convince them that I will return that I will pay the market price?” However, they can lend to shareholders, but for a short period, up to five months. “If we do not count Sovcombank’s subsidiaries, consolidated in the accounts (for example, Sollers-finance leasing company, in which the bank has 50%. - Forbes), then such loans will not exceed 2% of the capital,” says Dmitry Khotimsky .
Pavel Fuchs tried more than once to get financing from Sovcombank. While the bank was growing, Fuchs’s business was not going well; back in 2011, creditors began to besiege him. Sberbank wanted to repay a loan of 5 billion rubles, issued for the construction of the tower "Eurasia". Alfa-Bank demanded payments of about $ 200 million - Fuchs took this loan back in 2008 to buy 50%, or more than 500 hectares, of the land in the Istra Island project from Capital Group.
Fuchs' debt to Sberbank was eventually bought by the structures of billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, and he soon became the main owner of the tower. And at the end of 2011, Alfa Bank managed to sign a settlement agreement, according to which Fuchs pledged to pay the debt by the end of 2012. To do this, I had to sell land in Istra.
Did Sovcombank help its shareholder? The Khotimsky claim that this never happened. “I think that when Fuchs was a member of Sovcombank shareholders, he assumed that it would be possible to raise money for his construction,” says Dmitry Khotimsky. - Requests from Pasha to finance his projects, indeed, were large-scale. But our ability to finance them was nil. ” At the end of 2015, Fuchs sold his stake (21.83%) in Sovcombank. He did not respond to a Forbes request, and in 2017, in an interview, claimed that his investments more than doubled. In 2016, Forbes estimated the cost of the Fuchs package at $ 80 million. Together with a stake in the bank, the developer sold Sovkombank the Hotel Aeroplaza on Leningradsky Prospekt for 4.1 billion rubles and, having remained almost without business in Russia, returned to Ukraine.
In November 2016, Qiwi pompously celebrated the launch of a new product - Conscience installment cards. In the loft of the Bolshevik business center, music thundered, neon lights burned, guests were not allowed to get bored with mimes. Four months later, a similar Halva project was presented by Sovcombank. Unlike Qiwi, the bank decided not to create its own product, but bought a franchise from the Belarusian MTBank, which has been producing Halva since 2014.
“Conscience” and “Halva” turned out to be fundamentally new products for the Russian market: their holders got the opportunity to buy goods in installments without installment of interest, without paying interest - instead, the stores that joined the program do this. Overpayments begin only in case of delayed payment. At the same time, Qiwi focused on large federal networks, and Sovcombank launched Halva in 70 regions of presence and began to attract small regional players, including individual stores, to cooperate. Large-scale regional coverage was supported by aggressive advertising: by the fourth quarter of 2017, marketing costs amounted to 1.65 billion rubles.
What are the results? Sovcombank recently issued the millionth Halva card. The total limit for all cards issued exceeds 50 billion rubles, although over the past 11 months, purchases of 12.5 billion rubles have been made. “The card is accepted at 100,000 stores, while in Russia there are only about 500,000 stores,” says Sergey Khotimsky. Qiwi card has more modest coverage - 50,000 partner stores. The Conscience press service did not disclose the number of cards issued and the arrears on them, saying that they were striving to issue 4 million cards by 2020, of which at least 2 million would be active.
Why Sovkombank experiment with Halva? The bank acknowledges that the installment card is inferior to a regular consumer loan to yield, meanwhile, thanks to Halva, the number of Sovcombank customers has doubled over the year. “This is a kind of magnet, the card connects a large number of customers to the bank, to whom we can offer a lot of things,” Gusev explains.
Sovcombank has opportunities for inorganic growth. Since 2015, he has been consistently increasing his stake in the Russian Bank for Banking, specializing in lending to small and medium-sized businesses. Now the Khotimskys are close to control: they own 45.4% of the Rosevrobank. The options for merging are being discussed, if it takes place, the assets of the combined structure will exceed 900 billion rubles, it may become the third largest private bank in the country after Alfa Bank and Moscow Credit Bank.
Sergey Khotimsky is also the founder of the Future Now charity. By 2018, the fund initiated a project to support and social care of orphans and families taking them to education. Thanks to active cooperation with the administration of the Kostroma region over the past few years, the number of orphans and children left without parental care in need of a family arrangement has decreased by more than 2 times. The amount of funding by the fund of this social program “I Want Home” amounted to more than 100 million rubles.