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SBER ANNOUNCES PARTICIPATION IN A PRIVATE EQUITY FUND

Sber in cooperation with a leading Middle East sovereign wealth fund announces its commitment as a cornerstone investor into an investment fund managed by VPE Capital focused on making private equity investments into Russia. The agreed partnership combines the strengths of all parties to create a market-leading Russia-focused private equity platform in the region. On behalf of Sber, SberInvest will act as a party to the fund.

The fund intends to make sector-agnostic equity and equity-linked investments into businesses operating predominantly in Russia with specific focus on growth capital opportunities.

 

Anatoly Popov, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board, Sberbank:

“I am happy that our joint fund will help medium-sized enterprises across Russia get access to equity capital and achieve their ambitious goals. Following Sber’s initial commitment of $100 million, the fund’s current AUM stands in excess of $200 million. With the intention of reaching $500 million AUM, our fund will be open to accept additional commitments from third party investors. I am sure that the unparalleled asset and client base of Sber combined with the deep investment expertise and the asset management experience of our partners will bring new impulse to the Russian private equity market.”

 

Roman Kudryashov, Partner of VPE Capital: 

“The private equity space in Russia offers a unique opportunity to put capital to work into dynamic businesses with strong management which, particularly in the current challenging economic environment, require growth capital to meet their investment plans. VPE Capital has a 10-year history of working with global institutions to invest into Russia, and we are delighted to be able to work with one of the very strongest financial institutions active in Russia today. We believe we have a tremendous platform to invest equity capital to grow businesses on behalf of our investors and develop the private equity business in Russia.”

 

SberInvest (Sberbank Investments LLC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of PJSC Sberbank and part of its Corporate and Investment Unit. Its core operations include financial solutions and structuring through equity and mezzanine instruments, which it offers to the bank’s customers.

 

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BLACK FRIDAY WEEKEND SET TO SMASH ONLINE SALES RECORDS, ACCORDING TO ECOMMERCE EXPERT

The Black Friday weekend is anticipated to be the largest for online sales on record as the UK remains in lockdown, according to data from eCommerce experts Visualsoftwith daily online sales revenues already having exceeded Cyber Monday 2019’s figure of £4.8 million.

These predictions come following a major surge in activity on Visualsoft’s market-leading eCommerce platform, which is used by over 1,000 retailers and processes £1.20 of every £100 spent online in the UK. The highest recorded figure for online sales is the £1.49 billion spent on Black Friday 2018, however this year’s event could exceed this if the current sales trend continues.

Visualsoft’s platform has so far seen a 35% revenue increase in the period between Monday 23rd November and Wednesday 25th November, which is indicative of shoppers taking advantage of retailers beginning their Black Friday promotions earlier than ever this year, to ease the traditional pressures of the retail peak period. Average order values have also risen by 21% during this time.

Additionally, the platform has also reported a 25% increase in traffic, which indicates high consumer interest in picking up a deal over the Black Friday weekend, with a high chance of conversion for businesses that have taken the time to prepare their online offering for the weekend of sales.

Separate consumer trends analysis also indicates an increased public interest in forgoing the major retail brands this year. Search engine data shows that searches for “independent businesses” have skyrocketed by 139% in the past week compared with the same period last year. Related terms, such as “support local businesses”, have seen a similar boost, having increased by 152% over the same timeframe.

 

David Duke, chief operating officer at Visualsoft, said: “Black Friday has increasingly been making the move from bricks-and-mortar to online channels over recent years, however the enforced restrictions placed upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated this move significantly.

“While this means major opportunities for those that have taken the time to optimise their online presence, if your eCommerce offering is not up to scratch then you are essentially throwing away the tremendous sales opportunity afforded by the surge in demand at this time of year.

“Particularly for independent businesses, which are likely to see a dramatic influx of visitors this year from the public’s desire to support independent brands, it is crucially important to get the basics right when it comes to your online offering, or risk frustrating customers as a result.”

 

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ONE IN FIVE INSURANCE CUSTOMERS SAW AN IMPROVEMENT IN CUSTOMER SERVICE OVER LOCKDOWN, RESEARCH SHOWS

SAS research reveals that insurers improved their customer experience during lockdown

 

One in five insurance customers noted an improvement in their customer experience over lockdown, according to research conducted by SAS, the leader in analytics. This far outweighed the 11% of customers who felt it had deteriorated over the same period.

This is positive news for insurers during such challenging times, with 59% of customers also saying that they would pay more to buy or use products and services from any company that provided them with a good customer experience over lockdown.

The improvement in customer experience also coincides with a rise in the number of digital customers. Since the pandemic started, the number of insurance customers using a digital service or app has grown by 10%. Three-fifths (60%) of new users plan to continue using these digital services moving forward.

However, while the number of digital users grew over lockdown, half of the insurance customer base has not yet chosen to move to digital insurance apps or services.

 

Paul Ridge, Head of Insurance at SAS UK & Ireland, said:

“It’s impressive that there was a net improvement in customer experience during lockdown, despite the challenges the industry was facing with a transition to remote working and increased claims for things like cancelled holidays. While many were forced to wait on customer help lines for long periods, part of the improvement may be explained by even a small (10%) increase in the number of digital users.

“However, it’s clear that a huge number of customers are still yet to make the move online. It’s vital that insurers provide the most accurate, timely and relevant offerings to customers, and this is best achieved by having additional insight into online customer journeys so they can understand them better. Using analytics and AI, insurers can seize this opportunity to digitalise their customer experience and offer a more personalised approach.”

Meanwhile, for insurers that fail to offer a consistently satisfactory customer experience, the price could be severe. A third (33%) of customers claimed that they would ditch a company after just one poor experience. This number jumps to 90% for between one and five poor examples of customer service.

 

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