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Kirov Plant JSC
Spetsmash JSC
Special Design Bureau of Transport Engineering

St. Petersburg's Kirov Factory, is one of the true giants of Russian machine-building. The tank design bureau of the Kirov Plant was converted into an independent joint stock company in 1991 named Special Design Bureau of Transport Engineering (Spetsmash JSC -- not to be confused with GSKB Spetsmash initially led by Vladimir Barmin).

It has designed and produced tanks for the military. Among the recent developments of the Design Bureau (KB-3), the modern T-80U tank fitted with a 1250 hp gas turbine engine, deserves special mention. The tank has embodied the latest advances in tank construction and armament. When the Soviet Union collapsed, two tanks were still in production: the T-80U developed by the Spetsmash Design Bureau in Leningrad, and the T-72B which had been developed by the Vagonka Design Bureau at the Uralvagon plant in Nizhni Tagil. Another significant development of the KB-3 during the pre-conversion period is a 203.2mm self-propelled gun designated Malka. The Kirov Plant ceased producing tanks in November 1991. Other military products included PION self-propelled artillery gun, turbines for naval surface vessels and submarines, silent reduction gears for submarines.

The Kirov Factory is is also known as the Leningradskii Kirovskii Zavod (Kirov plant), AO "Kirovskiy zavod," and PO "Kirovskiy zavod." The Kirov Plant Production Association is a major producer of tractors and steam turbines for both the military and civilian markets. It is a vertically-integrated association that also produces its own steel, its own sheet metal, and its own forgings and stampings. The main component of the Kirov Plant Production Association is the Kirovskiy mashinostroitelnyy i metallurgicheskiy zavod (Kirovskiy Znamya Oktyabr zavod, Kirov Plant), the largest and oldest industrial complex in St. Petersburg. Other components of the Kirov Plant Production Association include the former All-Union Scientific-Research Institute of Transport Machinery (VNII TRANSMASH) in Gorelovo and the Transmash Plant in Tikhvin. It continues to produce turbines, tractors, construction machinery, and rolled steel.

The former All-Union Scientific-Research Institute of Transport Machinery (VNIITRANSMASH) in Gorelovo Gorelovo formerly designed and field tested tanks produced by the Kirov plant, and now produces Kirovets tractors. Conversion of a large specialized design bureau is a complex process, particularly at the initial stage of transition to market economy. The transition of the Spetsmash JSC of the Kirov Plant has been no exception. However, the intensive search for customers for new dual-purpose vehicles and maintenance of solid production ties with the Kirov Plant allow the Design Bureau to cope with the conversion problems.

The Transmash Plant in Tikhvin produces castings, as well as machinery, spare parts, and consumer goods.

The proposed building of a high-speed railway between St Petersburg and Moscow, reducing commuting time to three hours, is one of the most significant projects that has seen the involvement of more than 50 defence industry companies in the design and building of transport equipment. The St Petersburg-based VNII Transmash, a principal research institute for armoured vehicles, and Tikhvin AO Transmash (where the train is being built) are previously part of the tank-and-tractor-building concern Kirovskii zavod.

By 2000 the design cell of the Kirov Work's former tank facility was back in the tank design business, with a new design for the St. Petersburg Two-Man Tank. At the heart of the new design is an armored module for the two-man crew. This element, with thick armored walls, occupies the center of the vehicle, with the powerpack to the front and the magazine and ammunition lifting device to the rear. The crew capsule is completely hermetically sealed and is provided with life support equipment such that the crew can operate 72 hours without coming out of the tank. It has been known that the Russian tank design infrastructure has been working on revolutionary new designs for some time. The Armored Academy in Moscow has been concentrating on articulated tracked vehicles suitable for a variety of roles, while the Omsk bureau has been working on a tank with an unmanned turret. OAO Spetsmash in St. Petersburg, the design cell of the Kirov Work's former tank facility, is also involved in such work, although the tank line itself was closed down in 1991. Besides the concept design, it is also interesting that this marks the reemergence of St. Petersburg as a design bureau. The design comes not from VNII TransMash, the traditional tank advanced development center in St.Petersburg, but from the design cell of a former production unit. The Russian government has been nudging the two remaining tank production centers, Omsk and Nizhny Tagil, towards at least cooperation if not merger, for several years. St. Petersburg may be playing the role of 'honest broker' between the two, having no vested interest in the products of either center.

The Kirov Factory is famous for its long and remarkable history. It dates back to 1932 when a tank design bureau for development of the USSR's T-28 tank was established at the Leningrad-based Krasny Putilovets Plant (further renamed Kirov Plant). When the Kirov Factory was first constructed, new flats were built for workers to improve their lamentable living conditions. Some purpose-built apartments of the new type were built on Traktornaya Street, formerly Krylov Lane, renamed for the first Ford tractors built under licence at the nearby Krasny Putilov (Kirov) factory. On a narrow plot of land the first new apartments were constructed (1925-27), of fifteen three- and four-storey houses coloured a soft red.

In 1937, the Bureau became the dominant designer of heavy tanks. The series KV and IS tanks, as well as self-propelled guns SU-100, SU-122 and SU-152, developed by the Design Bureau, contributed greatly to the victory of the Soviet Army in WWII.

The translplantation of industry in the second half of 1941 and the beginning of 1942 and its relocation in the east must rank among the most stupendous organizational and human achievements of the Soviet Union during World War II. Equipment, workers and technical staff from the diesel department of the Kirov Plant in Leningrad were sent east.

Like other companies in Russia's machine-building and metals industry the Kirov factory suffered a steep decline in output after the demise of the Soviet Union. Formerly the factory churned out tens of thousands of tractors a year for the country's collective farms, paid for by government credits, and processed large state orders for the defense sector. However, in the 1990s the company went through a major transition, downsizing some production facilities and restructuring others. In that process the output of tractors plummeted from 25,000 a year in the late 1980's and 16,000 in 1992 to 1136 in 1994 and 850 in 1995. During the same period the company shed most of its 30,000 strong workforce and by th emid-1990s employed some 8300 workers.

The factory, however, increased its output of steel and rolled products through the subsidiary Petrostal that produced 294,000 tons of crude steel in 1996 (10% above its 1992 output), one-third of which was exported. Steel production accounted for around 50% of the Kirov factory's revenues; but the company was also seeking out potentially lucrative niches in the production of small tractors and sweepers, busses and armoured vehicles, as well as equipment for the country's oil and gas sector. The factory hoped to export an increasing share of its production of small tractors and sweepers to European markets.

Among the Kirov factory's projects is the joint production with General Electric of turbines to be used in Gazprom's pipelines. The company expected to receive orders for equipment from the oil industry: the state oil holding Rosneft holds a 4% stake in the factory that also enjoys close relations with another oil major, Yukos.

Given its location in one of Russia's most dynamic regions, its powerful corporate and political backers and the steps it has taken to re-focus production the Kirov factory is well-placed to benefit from the upturn in the Russian economy expected from late 1997 onwards. The company is not yet through its painful transition, but the overall positive trend in company performance makes the Kirov factory an interesting investment consideration for the medium term.

The Kirov factory was privatized in 1992; its charter capital consists of 8,149,005 shares of common stock and 2,176,335 shares of preferred stock each with a par value of 100 rubles. The company's stock is traded on the electronic RTS-2 system.The single largest shareholder as of late 1996 was the St. Petersburg Promstroibank that held a 13.8% stake.

The Company saw its sales increase by around one-third in 1996 to reach 1.12 trillion rubles ($218.15 million) up from 740 billion rubles ($161.9 million) in 1995. The 1996 figures pointed to continued stabilization at the plant after it reached a low point in 1994, with sales of just 200 billion rubles ($83.4 million). Company management expects the positive trend to continue in 1997: under this year's business plan the Kirov factory intends to increase output by almost 17% and boost ruble sales proceeds by 22% to 1.37 trillion rubles; a projected increase of some 5-7% in real terms.

Caterpillar's construction of a company factory in the city of Tosno in the Leningrad region was scheduled for completion in December 1999. The project was launched in August of 1998, and the investment plan included $50 million. The Tosno plant will manufacture road building and excavation equipment with a projected capacity of 1,500 machines and 14,000 tons worth of spare parts a year. By all indications, joint-venture arrangements have failed to achieve goal because requirements set by foreigners exceed the resources and capabilities of Russian partners. Caterpillar's experience of establishing joint ventures with the Kirov Plant, Uralmash and ZIL serves to prove it. Caterpillar has preserved very friendly relations with these enterprises, but decided that its goal can be reached faster by building a new facility from scratch.

Kirovski zavod (Kirov Plant)
Kirovski zavod (Kirov Plant) 
Location(region):  St. Peterburg 
Branch:  Engineering 
Post address:  47, Stachek ave., Saint-Petersburg 198097 
E-mail:  KZ@KZ.SP.RU 

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