Doniyor Islamov: "We raise smart investments"
Consulting in the field of raising investments and M&A is not only a profitable business. This activity increases the level of development of the state, because investments are an integral part of the modern economy and the most important factor in its development. The Mag introduces you to Doniyor Islamov - Managing Director of RB ASIA - investment, management and research consulting company, created from scratch and that has reached considerable results in just 2 years. Doniyor is a young and ambitious businessman who knows the advantages and disadvantages of his job, the risks and benefits, and the way how to achieve success. All this in our exclusive interview in the Mag.
I didn't know where i'd be...
I was preparing for admission to the University in Tashkent during 2 years. Then it so happened that my family moved to Moscow. Accordingly, the question of education arose and the choice fell on MGIMO. There were several reasons for this decision. Firstly, my father studied there, secondly, the level of education is very high. In addition, it is the most prestigious University in the CIS.
The first years of study were really tough. I was surrounded by very smart and talented guys. It was a strong motivator for me, and I realized that to reach their level I need to work harder. As a result, by the middle of the education period I had one of the highest grades in the group.
By the end of the 4th year I decided that it is time to get some practical experience, and got an internship in the international audit company PricewaterhouseCoopers. At that time, studying at MGIMO and full-time internship at the same time was not an easy task. It was an interesting and intense period of my life, as the work of an auditor requires 12 hours a day and numerous business trips. After graduation, my parents returned to Tashkent, and I stayed and continued to study for a master's degree and work. At that time, I could be away for business-trips for 3 months, returning for only one or two days, and then back on the road.
With the PricewaterhouseCoopers team, we completed several successful projects and I was noticed immediately. I quickly moved up the career ladder, for three years I led teams of 8-10 consultants, passed 14 exams, received an international certificate in auditing and international financial reporting ACCA (UK), but still decided to leave. The reason for this was that I did not feel the results of my work. What does the auditor do? Checks the accounts and makes a conclusion. For me, in terms of scale, these are not essential things that, for example, change the world. I also came to this understanding over time and then chose the investment advisory: Mergers and Acquisitions. The task of the consultant is to find such an investor for the client company, merging with which the total value of both companies increases significantly. So I got into the international investment banking group of companies “RB Partners", which has existed for 15 years and specializes in providing services in the field of sale and purchase of business and attracting investments for medium-cap companies, as well as attracting venture capital financing for innovative companies. By the way, the group's offices are located in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Hong Kong, Larnaca, Dubai, Almaty and Tashkent.
I came to a position of the Manager, and leaving, held a position of the head of Mergers and Acquisitions Department. At that time, I learned important things from the senior partner of the group Konstantin Dzhimbinov, under whose leadership I worked. He opened my eyes to many things, for which I will always be grateful. His vision and motivation helped me to grow, to be not only a successful Manager, but also an entrepreneur. And that was the turning point when I changed a good career, a stable salary to create my own business. I saw an opportunity and was not afraid to start it. It was a risky move, but I don't regret it one bit.
In Moscow, in partnership with my friend from Tashkent, I created a company in the direction of e-Commerce with an online trading platform through which various goods were sold with delivery to all regions of Russia, there were even orders from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other countries. It was my first business, raised from scratch and achieved success in just six months. 2 years after the launch, at the end of 2014. there was a sharp devaluation of the ruble, when the dollar rose from 35 to 80 rubles. This was due to the collapse in the price of oil. Our business has ceased to be profitable, as most of the goods were imported, and the purchasing power of Russians has decreased dramatically. After I sold my first business and for family reasons, after 12 years of living in Russia, I returned home to Uzbekistan.
The stronger is the one, who is the first
In June 2017, my former head of RB Partners, Konstantin, arrived in Tashkent.
WE BOTH SAW POSITIVE CHANGES TAKING PLACE IN UZBEKISTAN AND SAW A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF INVESTMENT AND CONSULTING BUSINESS IN UZBEKISTAN.
We met several times during his business visit and decided on future cooperation. Thus was founded a new company RB ASIA under my leadership. The purpose of establishing of the company is rendering consulting services in the sector of raising of investments to the local companies which are in search of investors, the international partners and financing for expansion of business or full sale of business. We also help foreign companies and investment funds to invest in Uzbekistan.
Our group has completed more than 90 transactions worth $ 2.5 billion in Russia and the CIS. To date, at RB ASIA, we are working on more than 15 projects totaling about $ 250 million, and there are already several successfully completed projects in Uzbekistan.
We help our clients not only to find the right partner and smart investments, but also accompany them from the very beginning, that is, from the preparation of investment materials to the conclusion of the transaction and receipt of investments. At the same time, in the course of this process there are a lot of questions, for example, when and how to disclose confidential information? At what point do I need to notify the company's employees? Under what conditions can you go to meet the investor, and what is not? How to create competition between investors? And answering all these and other questions, we help to build the right strategy to attract investors, so that the transaction is successful, and our client received the most favorable conditions.
RB ASIA - access to investments from 48 countries
RB ASIA is an exclusive member in Uzbekistan of the international Association Globalscope, which includes 55 investment banking companies from 48 countries specializing in mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance.
THANKS OUR PARTNERS, WE HAVE ACCESS TO GLOBAL CAPITAL AND GLOBAL PLAYERS.
On the example of my project in the field of pharmaceuticals, I would like to tell you how the process of interaction with partners is carried out.
First, we study from which countries companies are the strongest in the sector and come to the conclusion that it is Germany, Hungary and India. We are studying with which companies from these countries, there can be maximum synergy from investments in our project. Then I can call partners from these countries who have direct access to the management and founders of these companies, and offer to work together on the deal to attract them. This is how it works. Access to strategic investors on a global scale is a significant advantage of RB ASIA, which no other company in Uzbekistan has.
This is confirmed by the fact that Globalscope is among the top-30 investment advisor in the world and in the last six months alone we have closed more than 80 transactions worth 1.5 billion euros. Twice a year, the Globalscope conference brings together investment bankers from around the world and share their projects with the aim of their joint implementation. In the spring of this year I participated in this conference in Paris, the next conference will be in Delhi. We also plan to organize this event in Tashkent, so that our partners can see with their own eyes the changes and excellent investment opportunities that our country has.
WE MAINLY WORK WITH COMPANIES WITH AN ANNUAL TURNOVER OF MORE THAN $ 5 MILLION, WHICH HAVE THEIR OWN SUCCESS STORY, FORMED A TEAM AND BUSINESS PROCESSES.
We do not work with green field projects, that is, projects where everything has to start from scratch. If the initiators of the project do not have their own capital and experience in implementing such projects, the probability that foreign investors will be interested is very small. The exception is startups in the direction of IT, even if a small project, but there is a finished product and even better there is monetization, we can consider them. Moreover, we have signed a Memorandum of understanding with Mirzo Ulugbek Innovation Center and cooperate with them in the direction of investment.
We receive requests from foreign investors and investment funds who want to invest in Uzbekistan and ask us to find suitable companies for them and accompany the transaction.
We raise smart investments
When we started the operations, we saw the significant potential of the market. There were many interesting companies with great potential, but not enough funds for rapid growth. And there was very little amount of foreign investments. We do not just raise money – we attract smart money. For example, there is a certain company on construction materials wishing to expand the opportunities. In addition to the need for money to purchase equipment, they need technology. Sometimes it happens that it is possible to find a partner in two aspects in one investor, which we do. Then the company becomes competitive not only at the local level, but also will be able to sell its products in international markets.
THEREFORE, IN MY OPINION, IT IS NECESSARY TO ATTRACT NOT ONLY INVESTMENTS, BUT ALSO TECHNOLOGIES TO UZBEKISTAN.
Our state creates more and more attractive conditions, but we must not stop and continue to develop this direction, actively work on international investment platforms, attract consultants like us not only for private projects, but also for public ones. Around the world there is a fierce struggle for investments, technology and highly qualified specialists. To date, the flow of investors to Uzbekistan comes from neighboring countries and traditional trade partner countries, but the statistics still depend on the sector of the economy. The most active sectors where we see interest from investors are tourism, real estate, food processing and construction. The financial sector is also interesting, but there are certain barriers.
Look through a broader lens
We are always looking for new opportunities regarding the development of the company. While preparing the company's development plan for 2019, we considered new areas for development. One such area was strategy and research services. Unfortunately, this area in Uzbekistan is not so developed. However, the demand for these services is growing and will continue to grow. We advise more international organizations and companies in this field. Today, international financial institutions allocate great number of loans and grants for the development of industries in Uzbekistan, and these projects require technical assistance from consultants with international experience and specific competencies.
Recently, we conducted a study for the World Bank and the Ministry of higher and secondary special education in 6 regions of Uzbekistan on "Barriers for girls and socially vulnerable groups in higher education". This is an urgent problem that requires careful analysis. We have identified the existing problems and prepared our recommendations for the state, which is very interested in such projects. We were asked to present the recommendations as accurately as possible so that they could be implemented as productively as possible. We plan to further develop this area.
Moreover, our strategy and research Department conducts a monthly survey of one of the sectors of the economy of Uzbekistan, which we publish in the public domain on our website and send to our partners and clients in Uzbekistan and around the world.
In 2018, we opened an it direction for the banking sector in Uzbekistan together with one of the Group's companies – RB Technologies.
Common goal - to succeed
The RB ASIA team is one of the core assets of the company. We carefully select our employees and the most talented guys who have studied abroad and have a broad vision. We invest a lot in the growth of employees, conduct training and tests, develop not only technical skills, but also personal qualities. This applies not only to new employees, but also to the management of the company, including me. Our team supports each other as we believe that helping is a win - win strategy that leads to long-term growth and development.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR ME PERSONALLY THAT THE COMPANY'S EMPLOYEES HAVE THE SAME LIFE POSITION AS ME – TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS.
What do you need to succeed? - You need focus on the results, not on the processes. Therefore, we have a clearly built KPI system, bonuses and promotions are tied to it.
I believe that Uzbekistan can become a point of economic attraction in Central Asia. And when many complex reforms aimed at the development of the country are carried out at the state level, it cannot but motivate. To motivate to make a contribution by raising international investments, helping to develop businesses, using network, competence, intelligence - to become a leader in the field of investment banking industry. To leave an indelible mark on the future prosperity of our country.
After establishing of the company, the decision on annual charitable Fund was made. We allocate a certain part of our profits to social projects.
LAST YEAR, WE PROVIDED ASSISTANCE TO AN ORGANIZATION THAT HELPS CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES.
Sometimes we initiate help ourselves, and sometimes we receive requests and try not to leave these requests unattended.
At 32, I consider myself successful because at some tipping point I was able to take a chance. Making enough money and driving a good car has never been my limit. I am an ambitious person, always wanted more and worked hard to achieve it. I think that's what helped me be here today. When I returned to Tashkent, I had a full scholarship to continue my MBA studies at a University in the UK, which is in the top 10 in the world. I weighed everything and came to the conclusion that now is the time to create a business in Uzbekistan and stayed. And I didn't lose. I remember what I dreamed about 10 years ago: part of my plans did not come true. To tell you the truth, I'm a little late. But somewhere I acquired even more than I had planned. I live happily with my parents, my wife and my daughter, who will soon go to kindergarten. I have great friends, many of whom I have been friends with since school and each of whom is a professional in their field, and more importantly a decent person.
After another 10 years, I definitely see myself still in Uzbekistan. You need to travel, develop, play sports, work on yourself. But stay true to yourself and your Homeland.