Recently Cyprus offshore was an outpost of Russian big business. Now, the island reached other companies – game developers, software vendors and applications, and other representatives of the Russian IT-industry.
Denis Chetverikov lives in Limassol fourth year. In Moscow, he works remotely and concurrently developing their own start-up in Cyprus – Call2me, a sort of assistant-assistant for organizing contacts. We meet in the center of the city and walk along the promenade to Limassol Marina area. Within walking distance – the main attraction of the city, Richard the Lion Heart Castle, now a museum of the Middle Ages. Walk along the sea, tourists, mostly elderly people and couples with children. The swimming season has not started yet, and people are scarce. Local can be calculated by the clothes they go to jackets, because plus 18 – cool weather, Chetverikov said.
“In Cyprus there is already word particle” Rus “, so on the island are so many Russian – laughing Chetverikov. – As Cypriots are friendly to the Russian, and the main religion is Orthodox Christianity on the island, our people feel at home here. ” Since the beginning of 1990-ies of Cyprus was one of the most popular jurisdictions of the new Russian business on the island recorded the largest oil companies, metallurgists, bankers who solved so many problems at once: the need to hide the names of business owners to avoid taxes. But since then a lot has changed: he began to share information about registered companies on the island, the jurisdiction of the appeal of faded quickly under pressure from the authorities of other countries Central Bank of Cyprus. The financial crisis of the year 2013, which collapses the largest banks and nearly led to default the entire country, did the rest: the island has left a lot of people, companies and money.
Now Cyprus has no previous outlaws: companies are required to disclose shareholders, keep records of income, audit, etc., says Paul Shinkarenko, founder of the service for document automation and payment freelancers Solar Staff. Cypriots have done a lot to get rid of the offshore plume, so the Russian government of Cyprus is now more trustworthy jurisdiction than Switzerland, United Kingdom or the Netherlands, he continues.
At the same time Cyprus time difference with Moscow is one hour in winter and in summer, and non-existent, and the taxes are lower than in Russia or elsewhere in Europe, says Shinkarenko. The tax burden on the wage fund – pension and social security contributions, on income tax, which is deducted from individuals, etc., in Russia is about 45%, in Latvia – approximately 70%, while in Cyprus – about 20%, said he. In the Latvian capital of Riga, he moved the main office and some of its employees in 2014 year, but already in 2015-m Solar Staff office moved to Cyprus in the summer of the year 2016 in Limassol moved Shinkarenko himself with his wife and children.
There are several reasons why the IT-specialists are choosing Cyprus for business, says CEO of the Cyprus Agency for Investment Development Natasha Pilides: hence easier access to European markets and conduct international business, the government provides significant benefits to non-residents, and the warm climate and the availability of English schools allow to move their entire families. She hopes that the flow of such companies, and with it the investment will grow. And while the hope of Cypriots met.
“You only need internet”
Founder and CEO of the company – the manufacturer of Nival Games Sergey Orlovsky arrive for a meeting in a cafe on a bicycle. “After Cyprus, I can no longer have in Moscow a Greek salad and fish – says he senses a recent trip to Russia. – Maybe I’m just tired from Moscow, but I like in Limassol. ”
Orlovsky said about moving to Cyprus for the first time thought three years ago. “If you plant in Russia, transport him to Cyprus will be difficult, but I pros, and I only need internet”, – he explains. Then scared it is the lack of “normal Internet” on the island: smart phones used mainly for calls, 3G was somewhere, and there was no LTE. Now the situation has improved: the internet allows you to easily do business, although services in Cyprus and there are several times more expensive than in Moscow, – € 30-100 per month for home unlimited internet and about € 30 per month for mobile communication, compared to about € 7-10 for the same service packages in the capital of Russia.
Orlovsky moved in the spring of the year 2016 Limassol and immediately hired several Russian-speaking staff. The bulk of the developers, about a hundred people, yet remained in Russia. In the 2016 year Orlovsky Cyprus registered company Nival. Income tax expense for the gaming company in Russia is 20%, while in Cyprus – 12,5% and under certain conditions may be reduced to 2,5%, it lists the benefits of the new jurisdiction. Income from intellectual property are exempt from tax on 80%, and income tax on dividends in the first 17 years of life on the island is not a businessman at all.
In Russia, in 2016 year we adopted several laws that create limitations for IT-business: foreign IT-companies are required to pay VAT ( “on Google tax”), the Internet company must decrypt the traffic, at the request of the FSB and store user data ( “package Spring”) and news aggregators should check the information disseminated by them and upon request Roskomnadzor blocked resources. “When tightening the screws, one can tolerate for long, but sooner or later the thread is broken and you have to take more radical solutions” – throws up his hands Orlovsky.
Five years ago, Cyprus does not accept payments from Apple, Google and other platforms that sell games, said Orlovsky, but now it is possible. And in Russia, with them still can not directly, since the tax is trying to levy VAT on the company twice, he adds. “If there is less risk, lower taxes and no exchange controls, why should I stay in Russia?” – complains Orlovsky.
In the 2016 year Orlovsky decided that all new products Nival will be created, focusing on foreign user, mainly in Europe. “Emotionally this decision was difficult, but when we took it, it became easier,” – he admits.
Daily Orlovsky holds several stakes meeting with staff from Russia. For ten years he actually lived between Russia and the United States: Nival tried to conquer the American market. Because of the time difference I had to wake up in 6-7, and sometimes in 3-4 am: “Neither of which parties could not speak, eight in the evening I went to bed.” Now Orlovsky can not afford “the evening drinking wine on the balcony and watch the sunset.”
“The world has become a movable”
“Resort for seniors” – so called local Paphos town an hour’s drive from Limassol in the south-west of Cyprus. Here we meet with the founder of the animation studio Toonbox Pavlom Muntyanom, better known as Mr. Freeman. “I went to study in Paphos eldest son, a year later we are a business partner came to see how everything is arranged. And eventually moved the company “, – he says, as we drive from the central station to the cafe, where Muntean meets. The journey takes about ten minutes, on the way it shows that school – a two-storey building with a large territory and a playground. He says that the school taught in English, and she enters the school system at Cambridge.
The standard of living and safety of children in Cyprus – one of the reasons that Muntean decided to change his place of residence. “I freely remit sons walk anywhere, but always had to take care of their security in Moscow”, – he explains. Most of Toonbox employees live in Cyprus with their families, some have sold real estate in Moscow. “The world has become mobile, and only in Russia, if you left, then you are considered a traitor”, – complains Muntean. He moved to Cyprus, my mother, who now teaches Russian via Skype.
In the 2009, the former copywriter Yuri Luzhkov came up with the show Mr. Freeman, quickly gained popularity. He founded Toonbox back in 2008, together with the artist Vladimir Ponomarev. Other studio projects – children’s cartoons “! Males, forward” and “Kumi-kumi” are known not only in Russia, they can be seen on the international Disney Channels, Gulli, JimJam and others. These projects will bring the main income of the company and non-profit project Mr. Freeman studio shoots for money friends – before its production invested QIWI head Sergei SOLONIN, the former head of “Mirax Group” Sergei Polonsky and others. Now revenue Toonbox – about € 2 million, and by the early 2020-th will be at least € 10 million, expects Muntean.
For four years, the studio staff in Moscow increased from six to 72 people, but 2014 year because of the crisis the number of employees was reduced to 24, in Cyprus the same year moved 15 of them. 15 people – lower threshold quota for the employment of foreign workers, so I will no longer carry, but later the quota can be increased. Of the first 15 most people have left during the year, they were replaced by new ones, said Muntean.
Many have left when the money ran out for the first season of “The Seals, forward!” And simply was not working. Others do not accept the climate: Cyprus no central heating, and the winter temperature could drop to plus three. “Come home – and there are only nine plus, for them, it was hard,” – said Muntean. Heating the building with the help of an air conditioner or electric heaters is considered to be expensive: for two winter months it is possible to pay € 300-700. Summer electric bill in one-bedroom apartment is about € 50 a month for water – about € 25, the price of electricity at the same time linked to oil prices.
Muntean is recognized that the move makes a lot of beginner mistakes. For example, he hired a law firm in Moscow, and only after moving to realize that her services cost about one hundred times more expensive than you would find. In Moscow Toonbox rented an office on Artplay in 240 square. m for $ 10 thousand. per month, Paphos four times the floor space rental cost in the $ 2,4 thousand. “We thought at first, that Lafayette, and then it turned out that by local standards, and it’s expensive,” – said Muntean. Now he rents an office for $ 670 month. Already in the first year after moving Toonbox could save € 400 thousand. on taxes and renting, he adds, happy counting, that life in Cyprus is several times cheaper than in Moscow, and in Paphos three times cheaper than in Limassol.
A year after moving to Cyprus Muntean wrote a post on Facebook about their impressions of the island. “I used to leave open the car windows, not to put it on the alarm, keep things in it. In the house opened the door wide open for the day. Thing left is not going anywhere in the garden, and there the next day “- sounds like that one of the 11 points post. The publication gathered 39 thousand. Like and 19 thousand. Comment, and meet with Munteanu want many residents of Cyprus, from renowned surgeons to the event organizers. “So I started exploring all here” – he smiles.
Muntean recognized that Cypriots have changed his approach to work. the owner of the institution and said that recently remade in the institution as we speak in the cafe, to the table fits. In Cyprus, the owner of any business is trying to do more itself, and not to shift all responsibilities to employees, in contrast to Russia. “I myself began to do much more, such as taking part in the organization of the working place for the employees”, – Muntean said. However, not all reviews of Cyprus are set out in glowing terms, and not all tend to move to the island.
“You will not be bored here?”
“Most are not ready for a mortgage, school children and the need to care for elderly parents,” – lists popular reasons for refusal Nikolai Dvas, COO hosting provider Servers.ru (included in the XBT Holding). He says that in his list of the disadvantages of Cyprus was the climate – not tolerate heat. But after the interview in Limassol decided that he “would be interested to work with these people, it is completely no matter where.” In the 2013-meters, he and his wife moved to the island of St. Petersburg.
Wife Natalia still laments that Cyprus lacks many of the services and resources to which they are accustomed to in Russia. When a year and a half ago, she was pregnant and started looking for a babysitter child, it turned out that in addition to the Russian-speaking forum to do it anywhere. “This site has been a design that seems Avito advanced resource”, – she said. As a result, a young woman was replaced by eight nurses, seven of them for various reasons did not stay in the family more than a week. The problem is not only with the search for a nanny: lacking the usual set of online services such as taxi or repair equipment. “In our house, on the roof there is a tank for heating water, there is always something breaks down. That’s how you should fix it? You go to the shop, buy a newspaper and looking for a specialist in the announcement, “- says CEO of the group of recruiting sites Larixon Limited Evgeny Ostrovsky. Two years ago, he suffered a head company in Cyprus, and a year later moved with his family to Paphos.
Living in Cyprus twice as much as in their native Yekaterinburg, but Ostrovsky was ready to save: “We almost did not go to restaurants, and with three children is problematic,” – says Eugene. His older children go to the same school as the children Muntean and his wife Olga is part of the parent committee. We have to get used to a completely different culture, and it is not easy, he adds. For example, if the school will be a concert or disco, the problem is not the parent committee to raise money – so is not accepted. They should make with the children, such as selling homemade cookies at the fair.
“If a child 1 September will give the teacher a bouquet of flowers, she react to this with amazement, and most likely will not even take” – adds Ostrovsky.
Emigration he calls “selfish decision.” “I want to live a long time, not to 65 years, as the average man in Russia, and for this we need to breathe clean air, do not smoke, drink less and eat normal food,” – he lists. People who have not thought about retirement, to slow and measured rhythm of life in Cyprus accustomed difficult. “You will not be bored here?” – in the words of living in Cyprus Russian, the question most often asked Moscow friends.
Man about a year of living in Cyprus realizes he can live here or not, says Nikolay Dvas: “First and foremost we must learn to live in a limited circle of people.”
“Veteran of Cyprus”
“Thank you for coming to our performance, although I do not know whether you have a choice. I have not seen in any other concert posters, and our – only one. How did you hear about it? “- she said from the stage of the hall Monte Caputo member of Stand Up Viktor Komarov show. The audience laughs, people, by local standards, much – more 700 people. Most of the women in dresses, heels and makeup.
Large recreational activities in Cyprus rare and account for all the “Russian get-together,” says the wife of Nicholas Dvas Natalia. Spectators groups sit at tables, as usual on the Comedy Club performances. However, there are so accepted and even concerts under the fan zone free only a small area in front of the stage. “After Peter was unusual to see people quietly sitting at the tables,” – says Natalia concert of the “Beasts”.
About once a month concert agency “Russian Nights in Cyprus” brings in Limassol Russian artists: “Leningrad” performed in 2016 year, Christmas tree and other. The founder of the agency Maxim Mazurovskiy lives in Petrozavodsk, but usually personally greets the audience before each concert. This time he was not able to fly, so the recorded video: thanked everyone who came and announced the concert “Time Machine”. A year ago, appealed to Mazurov CEO of web hosting company XBT Holding Aleksei Gubarev and offered to organize in honor of the wife’s birthday concert “Beast.” And if tickets are sold in retail does not pay the fee, and promised to pay the difference.
Mazurovskiy Gubarev calls “the greatest friend of the project” and said that most of the concerts in Cyprus pays off mainly due to sponsors. Only in 2016-m Gubarev and his fellow businessmen have spent on aid, “Russian evening” of about € 100 thousand. Rather than go by a concert of your favorite band in Moscow or St. Petersburg, it is better to help get him in Cyprus, said Gubarev, adding that “Russian evening” help “for pleasure”.
Among the new Greek 36-year Gubarev – a veteran of emigration, he lived here for years 15. The main advantages of moving to the island from Russia for many emigrants are safety and comfort, and Gubarev said that is no exception. In the early 2000-X and his wife lived in Novosibirsk, where all the time had trouble and accidents of all sizes. But one day his wife gave things to the dry cleaners, where they were spoiled. “It was the last straw: in 2002, we packed up and moved to a week in Cyprus” – laughing businessman.
Gubarev for office rents four-storey building area of 1800 square. m in the north-east of Limassol. Before him under glass concrete figure of a dragon in a few meters, it was being shown in the first logo of the company. Inside – a lot of tables from a single piece of wood, bamboo decoration, bright lamp in the Oriental style on the ceiling. On the ground floor employees can play table tennis or eat – food Gubarev orders from his friend, who owns a chain of restaurants in Cyprus. Here it is worth the very first XBT server – he was brought to the main office in honor of the company’s decades 2015 year.
Now XBT Holding is not the only business Gubarev: it is co-owner of more than three dozen companies, from investment funds and hotels to Internet projects popular applications like Prisma and Fabby. Total annual revenue of the company with his participation Gubarev estimated at “several hundred million euros.”
During the years of living in Cyprus he acquired many of the attributes of the rich – buy a yacht, gathered a collection of vehicles, including old school Rolls Royce and the Ford, discovered his wife’s largest dance studio in the country (1200 sq. M), which go mostly Russian immigrants and which recently “went to zero.”
With many of the visitors Gubarev is building a new business. Thus, in 2016, he registered a venture fund Haxus along with former vice-president of Mail.Ru Group Yuriem Gurskim, who moved to Cyprus last summer. Its volume amounted to more than $ 10 million of Gursky and Gubarev invested half. Two other partners – brother Dmitry and Alexander Gursky Gavel help look for projects under the investment.
“We called Haxus venture company, but we are essentially a network company which itself set up a business”, – says Gursky. Gubarev calls this model is a hybrid of the accelerator and venture fund: the purpose Haxus – bring the number of “exits” from investments to 100%, so now in the portfolio of seven projects, and by the end of the year 2017 there will be a maximum of ten. One of the latest investments Haxus – the purchase of “several million dollars” blocking stake in the very Toonbox animation studio said Gubarev.
According to the Statistical Service of Cyprus, in 2001, the island lived 4,9 thousand. Russian citizens, 2012-m – has already 8,1 thousand, and in 2014-m -.. 10,5 thousand, or about 1% of all residents of Cyprus (more recent data are not available). The average age of Russians – 30-39 years. Only in the year 2016 Cyprus moved about four dozen IT-companies from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, said Gubarev, who is often asked to act as consultant and who knows by heart all the reasons for such movements. “In Russia, people fear the opacity of the relationship with the tax – even if you pay an honest 13%, they begin to think:” How much does he stole “- says Gubarev.
The principal difference between doing business in Cyprus is that here you can deal with them and make sure that no one tries to take it away from you, Gubarev said. More pleasant climate and tax incentives do not cancel the need to work hard, he says: “Success Formula is not here – you plow with nine in the morning until nine at night, and sometimes work on weekends.”
But coming from Russia Cyprus Cyprus still remains – a beautiful and relaxed island of tourist brochures. In any case, Russian party is puzzling decision of the founder of the company Wargaming Victor Sour, which opened developer “Tanchiki” office in Nicosia, why live in Cyprus if it is not near the sea?