Tony Maher talking about his career and business in Russia, quality of agricultural products and investment climate
Over the last almost 25 years, Tony Maher has become known in Russia much more than in Ireland, his home country. Many renown companies owe him their success. Among them is Coca-Cola, which factories he opened in the 1990s across the whole country, Wimm-Bill-Dann (WBD), which under Maher’s leadership reached such heights that the American PepsiCo agreed to give for it $5.4 bn, unprecedented money for the Russian non-commodity market. After that sensational deal, which was the largest PepsiCo’s deal outside the North American market, Maher was invited to Progress, the company producing FrutoNyanya baby food, in that time #4 in revenue in the Russian market.
Then, in 2012, the Lipetsk company was going through difficult times – Yury Bortsov, its founder and ideologist, suddenly died 2 years before – the company’s future was full of uncertainty. In the time of Bortsov, his family as the main owner of Progress wanted to sell the business. Kommersant called the Swiss Nestle the most likely candidate, but the parties did not agree on the price. Since then, Progress has not been sold to foreigners – instead, the company secured the title of the industry leader and continued growing the revenue along with the shareholder value. Maher still assures that the shareholders do not plan to sell the company yet – the strategy of Progress envisages for multi-billion investments in the coming years.