A unique Czech factory specialized in manufacturing precious metal products SAFINA increases its production, and gets ready for a further international expansion. SAFINA is a strategic supplier for the global automotive industry, skyscraper builders and electronics manufacturers. From time to time, SAFINA also implements exclusive One Thousand and One Night style contracts, such as transforming a four-meter-long golden plate into an exclusive ornamental decoration of a huge window in the office of an Arab prince…
The factory looks at first sight like a quiet industrial site based in a small town of Vestec near the Czech capital Prague. But with less than two hundred employees SAFINA is one of the few companies in the world that can turn gold, silver, platinum, and other precious metals into unique end products or semi-finished goods for different industries. However, this is only one aspect of its business activity.
Importantly, raw materials are just as vital for SAFINA. By buying precious metals directly, SAFINA covers only part of its production. Recycled metal waste stands for yet another important source of its feedstock, with metal obtained through various and complex technological processes. At the end of a refining process, metal is recovered in its pure form, and it is used for manufacturing a large scope of products in which only experts would identify traces of precious materials.
“We take part in developing products from our metal powders for so-called additive technologies, specifically for a cold spraying method used for aerospace and even for the space industry. We are proud to grow and progress in this field, and we are delighted to see some of our production appear not only in the global market, but even in space,” SAFINA´s CEO Vadim Kartavtsev said.
The production of platinum and platinum-rhodium thermocouple wires exported worldwide stands for one of the key product lines in SAFINA. The company is also a major supplier of pure silver sputter targets used to deposit a thin functional silver layer on industrial flat glass. Although the layer cannot be seen with the naked eye, its effect is nevertheless immense. It can prevent heat leakages through window panes without obstructing daylight entry.
SAFINA is not only a manufacturer of unique products made from exclusive materials, but also a developer. “We always come up with original and tailor-made solutions for our customers. The precious metals we work with are extremely valuable, but the know-how in processing and manufacturing them is SAFINA´s greatest wealth,” Vadim Kartavtsev emphasized.
SAFINA's business might seem to be guaranteed and resilient thanks to industry diversification and various customers. Yet SAFINA went through difficult times in 2018 due to geopolitical tension between the U.S. and Russia. Last year, the U.S. government imposed sanctions restricting payment transactions on SAFINA´s Russian end owner Renova because its possessor, Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselsberg, financially contributed to the president Donald Trump's presidential campaign through Trump´s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen who later received three years in prison for a series of tax fraud and lying charges. Although, in theory, the sanctions are to be followed only by American banking entities, in fact all the world banks comply with the sanctions programmes for fear of doing business with sanctioned parties.
In practice, SAFINA has faced obstacles in payment transactions since the spring of 2018 because some banks declined to maintain the company´s accounts and refused to make regular payments. "Although we have never lost payment channels completely - we have successfully implemented all the contracts and paid our employees – we have had to pay close attention to cash flow, and we needed to focus on banks instead of business," Vadim Kartavtsev explained. Moreover, SAFINA had to freeze its American subsidiary, although the American market has a strong business potential.
The problem has been resolved in a similar way to that of other businesses that were part of the Russian holding companies with sanctioned owners. Renova has sold a majority stake in SAFINA, the sanctioned owner has lost control of the company, and the company has automatically gone outside the sanction landscape. Thus, SAFINA has not only renewed relations with partner banks, but also with its customers in the U.S. market. SAFINA has also gradually renewed the operation of its American branch which should not only be of a commercial nature, but should also take part in production. These expansion plans will result in a unique situation when a priceless know-how from the Czech Republic will be transferred and used in the U.S.