Igor Shuvalov Interviewed on RBC: ‘I Don’t Like It When They Say the World Will Never Be the Same’
RBC interviewed VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov about the completed organisational transformation and about investment during and after the coronavirus crisis.
RBC: VEB was teetering on the brink of collapse two years back and needed financial restructuring. What condition was it in when it met the crisis? Have you completed the transformation?
Shuvalov: VEB was in the worst condition early in 2016. It was decided then that management should be changed. Sergey Gorkov and his team came from Sberbank. Several key people in government were involved in the rescue of VEB. The main responsibility lay with the finance minister. A lot of work was done; the bank was rescued from default. A considerable number of the old VEB’s employees were sacked. The corporate culture began to be dominated by the people from Sberbank.
When I joined the bank two years ago, it was no longer deep in crisis. We continued the organisational transformation. It was easier for us because Gorkov had obtained approval for a new remuneration scheme from the president and prime minister to recruit top talent and started pushing corruption out of VEB. There were criminal cases.
Before anything else, we started with staffing. VEB had a lot of overstaffed subsidiaries. VEB-Leasing had nearly 2,000 employees, and 1,000 worked for VEB Capital. We rightsized our operations, with an almost threefold reduction in our workforce. The subsidiaries continued as operational units. But VEB’s management are in charge of their business.
This year we decided to enhance workforce productivity. On the 1st of July, we’ll start another downsizing procedure. This will be the final stage of the transformation.
RBC: Downsizing on a large scale?
Shuvalov: A ten per cent reduction. We are also changing the management structure. There will be reshuffles in some divisions. This is taking place alongside a job audit conducted by PwC. We have staffing positions that are overvalued or, conversely, undervalued. We’re going to bring them into line with market standards.
Our team changed the pay package completely. We have no company cars, chauffeurs or high-priced health insurance plans— that’s history. We got rid of all that stuff. Top managers use their private cars.
RBC: True of you too?
Shuvalov: Yes, it is. We dealt with it in a civilised way.
RBC: What condition is VEB in now?
Shuvalov: VEB’s problems with capital requirements and financial obligations are over. Rather than a bank, we are a government-owned development corporation now. There was not just a change of status, but the real role of VEB was formalised. Our objective is to serve as an effective tool for the government in major investment projects. We arrange project financing. We raise both public and private funding. There are about 2.5 roubles of private investment for each rouble invested by VEB.RF.
We have a portfolio of more than 200 projects. Some of them are quite large, for example the construction of 21 tankers at the Zvezda shipyard in the Primorie Territory, or the construction of a gas chemical facility in the Leningrad Region. But we also focus on urban development projects that have an impact on quality of life. An example is the project to renew public transport in Tver. More than 400 modern Russian-made buses came into operation there. Now, as instructed by the president, we are working with the government on similar projects in other regions.
RBC: Does VEB still have a problem balance sheet?
Shuvalov: Our balance sheet is in good shape. Stories of the Olympics casing damage to VEB, or projects related to neighbouring countries, are irrelevant. We abandoned a host of non-core assets, transferred them to other organisations and don’t control them any more. As for other troubled assets, we are preparing for sale or investment.
We completed several transactions of this kind last year. We helped Svyaz-Bank to unwind its balance sheet and assigned it to the government for integration into Promsvyazbank. We assigned an agricultural business, Eurodon, to Russian Agricultural Bank.
VEB.RF’s capital adequacy ratio now is above 11 per cent, and we have sufficient liquidity to finance projects. We are not a burden to the government or the Central Bank. Nothing threatens our financial stability. There is nothing left to hide.
RBC: How will the crisis affect VEB’s financial position? You were able to decrease your loss in 2019; can it go up this year?
Shuvalov: Yes, but our loss is carried forward from previous periods. We have not generated losses in the past two years and are not running at a loss now. Can our performance be in negative territory? Yes, it can. But we will not allow any misstatement. Financial records will be completely transparent. We can report a loss and explain it. We think it’s only right to do so.
RBC: What do you expect to be the year-end results for 2020?
Shuvalov: We budgeted a certain loss without the crisis in mind. But even some good borrowers are now seeking repayment holidays. We have to understand how borrowers will behave, whether they will have the capacity to pay. If everything stops for several months, then our loss will be slightly higher. But this won’t affect our CAR. We’ll keep it above 10 per cent at all times.
RBC: How will bad debts change in value?
Shuvalov: They may increase, but not very much. We’ve made all bad debt provisions. Loans can be repaid on easy terms in Sochi, for example. But there are no tourists in Sochi now. Once tourism resumes, and businesses and hotels are back in operation, we’ll see whether the repayment holidays are a good idea.
RBC: Can you resort to callable capital during the crisis?
Shuvalov: Yes, we can. This mechanism was approved in 2018. We discussed it with the finance ministry and government. When you’ve reached a certain level of capital, you have to approach the regulator (in the case of VEB, this is the [Russian] Ministry of Finance): another two or three transactions, and we’ll come and call up capital. First, this enables the finance ministry to give us capital immediately by redistributing their cash resources and available cash balances. Second, this enables us to take prompt action through syndicated loans to industrial, infrastructural and other projects.
RBC: Have you revised the project financing plan for 2020?
Shuvalov: No, we haven’t. I’ll tell you more—crisis management should be accompanied by thinking about businesses that may open in years to come. Life will go on in three or five years. You should react to ongoing challenges, but the investment cycle is a non-stop process.
VEB has more than 30 projects in the pipeline now. They are estimated at around 1.7 trillion roubles. These are industrial exports, gas to chemicals, airports. We’ve kept all our plans intact. We intend to inject 3 trillion roubles into the economy by 2024. Along with our partners, this will amount to 9 or 10 trillion roubles.
“VEB.RF will not seek any additional money from the National Wealth Fund”
RBC: How will VEB be involved in financing the Western Europe-Western China transport corridor? What’s your opinion of the Meridian project?
Shuvalov: There are several alternatives. I’m confident about the [Meridian] project. It has a rival promoted by the transport ministry. Under such conditions, it will be very difficult to take all credit risks if a government-funded road begins operation nearby. There must be guaranteed freight traffic. Things are not shaping up well for the project at the moment. But if things do work out well, then we want to use the Project Financing Factory mechanism for the Russian section. We’re even ready to change the Factory’s rules accordingly—it’s a megaproject. The project can also be of interest to Natsproektstroy, an infrastructure company that is to be set up with the participation of VEB.
RBC: Is there any discussion about whether the Ust-Lug gas-to-chemicals project should be rescheduled?
RBC: Is it possible that a foreign shareholder might join the project in the current situation?
Shuvalov: We think so. We just need to understand when. At this point in time, inviting a foreign shareholder has a certain price. But VEB wants to make money from the project. And when production and shipment are started, the price will be different. I believe in the power of partnership. In the case of an export-oriented company, the shareholding structure is optimal if it is international.
RBC: Will the project receive any money from the National Wealth Fund?
Shuvalov: In the current situation, I don’t know if any project will receive financing from the National Wealth Fund. Everybody must understand public budgetary expenditures will be paid in full in the current and next years. According to the rules, they are the first to be paid, and that’s what the National Wealth Fund is primarily designed for.
VEB.RF will not seek any additional money from the National Wealth Fund. We’ll be negotiating with the finance ministry, but our stance is that it’s necessary to seek foreign and Russian investment, attract individuals and think of ways to do it. We believe people can be interested in investing in collective investment funds, understanding that they will be shareholders of Ust-Lug, for example.
RBC: What are your plans for Novinsky Passage?
Shuvalov: We took ownership of the shopping centre. We are headquartered in a building located in Vozdvizhenka Street and owned by Chinese-based Fosun. We could swap buildings, or come up with another idea, or move to Novinsky Boulevard ourselves, since Novinsky Passage is large enough to accommodate the VEB office.
RBC: How long does VEB intend to be an investor in CSKA? Does Yevgeni Giner have the right to buy the club back, and on what terms?
Shuvalov: Yes, he does. We agreed on a project lasting three to five years. We are in charge of the project’s finances and real property. VEB and Russian Post agreed to lease the VEB Arena business centre for their office. Additionally, we’ve already partnered up with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to seek foreign investors.
RBC: In the club?
RBC: Has the crisis proved economically fatal to CSKA this year?
Shuvalov: We don’t know about this year yet. People are tired of staying home. With a good creative approach, the VEB Arena complex can be used not only for sport but also for entertainment. This would make it possible to earn some money even this summer. In any case, in contrast to last year, there is an anchor tenant for the huge property.
RBC: What are the terms of the deal to sell Sibuglemet to EVRAZ?
Shuvalov: The Supervisory Board of VEB.RF decided in December to sell Sibuglemet. Perfect is the enemy of good. For some time, we wanted to improve the deal. EVRAZ is not sure whether they are ready to buy. We have an offer for them. But they asked us to wait for a while.
RBC: When can a shareholding in Industrial Union of Donbass be sold?
Shuvalov: This is no longer our responsibility. Before I joined VEB, my predecessor and the government transferred this asset to a special purpose company. This is not our asset any more.
RBC: Last year, VEB received 242 billion roubles in government subsidies as reimbursement for losses arising from projects where it was involved before 2018. What are these projects? Am I correct in saying that they include the Olympics construction investment projects?
Shuvalov: No, this mainly about external debt. The subsidies for its repayment were agreed by the finance ministry and government. The subsidies cover 600 billion roubles of the debt. We received only a part of them because it was more financially practicable for the finance ministry to give us that portion of money in late 2019 than pay in smaller parts for three consecutive years.
RBC: Have you written off any Olympics loans lately?
Shuvalov: We’ve already made provisions for the construction loans and we don’t need any further provisioning. The problem is where the borrowers will find themselves. They need customers to be able to pay off their debts. But the issue remains unsettled. We’ll be discussing it with them.
RBC: What is the current status of VEB’s project to set up its own private pension fund using the resources of Blagosostoyaniye? Is it true that the Guaranteed Pension Plan model proposed by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank is no good?
Shuvalov: Young people entering today’s or tomorrow’s job market must understand that they should start to make pension savings immediately. The current situation doesn’t matter. People in China, for example, all set aside savings, irrespective of income.
In this context, VEB enjoys higher market confidence. We are the government-controlled management company for those who haven’t chosen any pension scheme; we are performing well.
Our principal partner in Blagosostoyaniye is Russian Railways; the other shareholder is Gazprombank. Our competencies and reputation should help the new pension fund to attract those who haven’t begun to save money for their retirement yet. They can come from the government-controlled management company, or they can be new entrants to the job market.
RBC: The finance ministry has prepared a project allowing VEB to invest up to 100 billion roubles in perpetual bonds issued by Russian Railways to finance its capex programme. What’s in it for VEB?
Shuvalov: VEB can’t do it right now because the rules don’t allow it. With a government decision and a guaranteed coupon yield, the project seems to be a good investment.
RBC: Has the finance ministry consented to increase VEB’s capital by 70 billion roubles to finance the SSJ lease project for Aeroflot?
Shuvalov: One way or another, the project will require either government-backed surety bond, or a capital increase, or a guarantee. There is no secondary market for these aircraft, and we understand that a grant must be given for a certain amount. We don’t know if we’ll need it, but we have to agree in advance just in case.
RBC: Does VEB continue to pay anything to lobbyists in the United States?
Shuvalov: We continue work in this area. We began to be blamed overseas for what we never did. We decided to safeguard our interests, seeking justice for VEB. Besides, this is important because they had no idea what the new VEB was or what projects we were involved in.
We will definitely be doing this work, since the Capitol gives signals to numerous countries. Our debt portfolio has many American investments, and we must work in the US market and explain that we are involved in creating a modern urban economy and implementing industrial and infrastructural projects.
RBC: Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin instructed to evaluate the performance of development institutions. Are the findings available now? Do you think it reasonable to consider their merger?
Shuvalov: In the government, this matter is supervised by Andrey Belousov. We are working with him and Dmitry Grigorenko, Chief of Staff of the Government Executive Office. VEB has had a lot of potential and should keep it intact: we are a serious organisation. In all countries creating new industries and carrying out the most ambitious projects, development banks have always been involved. VEB is a good financial tool to ensure that the goals of the president and government are realisable.
With our new business model, we never work as a sole lender unless we undertake a project of nationwide significance. We generally form syndicates with commercial banks, including through the Project Financing Factory.
In partnership with Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank, we have already given approval to ten projects in the gas chemical sector, metal production, port and road infrastructure and the digital economy. Investments from private investors, the banks and VEB.RF amount to 767 billion roubles. Financing was provided for six of them in 2019. We’ll provide financing for the remaining projects this year. The Factory has another 12 projects in the pipeline, totalling over 1.1 trillion roubles.
RBC: As a coordinator of development institutions, how do you collaborate with institutions such as DOM.RF and Russian Export Center now after their management changed? Is a change of management at RSMB Corporation under discussion?
Shuvalov: VEB’s functions relating to supporting small and medium-sized enterprises and exports were spun off a while ago. DOM.RF is not technically affiliated with VEB either, but it was formed as a development institution for the housing sector. The institutions could be merged into one, but it would be wrong. I wouldn’t like to make VEB their boss. VEB is a senior partner. This is a totally different culture of interaction.
We have coordinated activities associated with treasury operations, legal issues and risk management over the last two years. We are now working with RSMB Corporation on the rescue scheme to support businesses. We approved a stimulus package for SMEs.
It’s necessary to find the right combination of puzzle pieces, from microenterprises to the largest manufacturers. Our goals include helping to build comfortable houses on a massive scale and set up modern waste disposal businesses that replace landfill by energy recovery. This is what we’re interested in. And the four development institutions have to do it in partnership with each other.
We had previously worked with Alexander Braverman of RSMB Corporation on modifications to the national project as related to the development institutions. We approached the government about this matter. The new system will be functional in the current economic situation and in the medium run. The team effort of the development institutions will open up new opportunities.
RBC: Why did you set up New Urban Projects when VEB was already involved in urban development? Could you be specific about what the company will do and how it will interact with Strelka?
Shuvalov: We are building a VEB that creates value. We came up with urban ambitions two years ago and became involved in several projects. The most successful is the comprehensive programme to develop urban public transit in Tver. Discussions are under way with governors about whether the project is replicable in their regions. We’re getting close to the launch of the project in Perm.
We hope city managers will see that we offer them very many options for integrated development. For example, there are environmental issues because landfills around cities are in terrible condition. VEB.RF can turn it into a good investment trend: landfills will not grow, and people paying for public utility services can finally be sure that waste is not unloaded on the way to a landfill site but is disposed of in a civilised manner.
While creating New Urban Projects, we had a vision of how we could engage in urban development through the company. And we will work with Strelka; we have excellent experience with them. They are criticised for being too expensive. But they keep working day and night and they have a first-rate team. We share the vision of urban projects with Strelka.
RBC: Is the purchase of a shareholding in Strelka KB a non-cash transaction?
Shuvalov: It’s a cash transaction; we’re buying about 20 per cent. Moreover, we now think a similar shareholding will be bought by another market participant, who understands that urban development is a driver of the country’s economic growth. Tomorrow’s people will not choose the country to live in; they will choose the city where they want to live.
RBC: Who can be the partner?
Shuvalov: We want them to be a financially strong player capable of influencing the city agenda. I have no ready answer. Ideal partners could be Sberbank and VTB. They should find this project interesting, attractive. We can see Russian Post is highly interested. Working with them, we can do a lot in urban logistics. In general, we’re thinking of different options for partnership.
“It’s necessary to look for new people who couldn’t be seen behind high oil prices”
RBC: What do you think the economic implications of the pandemic will be globally and for Russia?
Shuvalov: I don’t like it when they say the world will never be the same. The new economic model has been developing for several years. As early as 2008, it became clear that the global crisis was a sign that a new economic, social and cultural model was beginning to emerge. You have to be prepared to meet any challenge, those “black swans”. Crises happen but they make you concentrate your energy and work hard. This is the only way to win in the end.
RBC: How many surety bonds has VEB already issued to banks for salary loans? What losses are you prepared for?
Shuvalov: We provided 100 billion roubles in surety bonds to cover 75 per cent of the lenders’ risks. Our possible default totals 75 billion roubles. Numerous borrowers, banks, and the Central Bank asked to raise the limit to 85 per cent. So, this is going to be 85 billion roubles.
By the way, the government’s deal to buy Sberbank shares is partially related to VEB. In the coming days, we can receive additional capital: it is technically 350 billion roubles, but the auditor will actually take into account an additional 210 billion. This will allow us to conduct such high-risk transactions. This is what VEB exists for.
RBC: VEB’s Institute for Research suggested revising the fiscal rule by, for instance, raising the fiscal breakeven oil price from $42.4/bbl to $50/bbl. Do you share their opinion? How do you think the fiscal rule needs to be adjusted?
Shuvalov: The institute is an expert platform. As VEB’s chairman. I’m not in charge of them. Their predictions and analytics receive mixed feedback. But the initial purpose of the institute is to give independent recommendations.
Andrei Klepach, our chief economist in charge of this work, has very many years of service with the government and he understands a lot. Now his responsibility is to say what he thinks as an expert. It doesn’t matter whether I share his view or not—this is an independent expert opinion.
Your opinion about the fiscal rule is largely dependent on your post. If you’re responsible for finance, you want one fiscal breakeven price. If you aren’t, you want a different one. The National Wealth Fund today is big enough to finance several government support packages.
RBC: Talking about this year. How about next year?
Shuvalov: Both this year and in the future—no concerns about it. This is the result of the fiscal breakeven price. Some people say, “We’ve been stockpiling this cash, now it’s time to spend it.” Yes and no. You need to spend it to make tomorrow better than yesterday. You can’t make everyone satisfied. You’ll be criticised from the right and left, but this shows your skill in leading the country.
RBC: Is it possible that you might do again what VEB did during the previous crisis when you acquired interests in industrial companies?
Shuvalov: We can’t do it unless instructed by the government.
RBC: Don’t you think it’s a waste of money?
Shuvalov: As with the previous crises, we believed that it was necessary to rescue companies critical to the economy rather than their beneficial owners. If any company can’t be rescued, it’s necessary to help its employees, at any rate. If the owners can’t cope with financial management or can’t pay off their debts, the government has mechanisms for using VEB.
It’s not a waste of money, but we must rely primarily on the resources of the business community. VEB isn’t ambitious to manage any such companies. You should always understand who will take on their development in the future.
RBC: Any potential investee companies now?
Shuvalov: None, for the moment. But we will see the consequences of recent negative developments shortly afterwards. It’s only natural for creditors to take companies for debts. But there may be debts that commercial banks can’t take on or write off. Then the government can decide that it’s a project of nationwide significance.
RBC: VEB is an operator of national projects. How will they be adjusted due to the coronavirus crisis?
Shuvalov: It’s the government’s prerogative. VEB’s projects, from Energy from Waste to the urban economy, will be among priorities in any case. We are a reliable partner of the government.
RBC: Do you think it’s possible that some financing for national projects might be reduced and channelled into the government’s rescue programme?
Shuvalov: It depends on the programme. You can continue to build roads, railways and airports—and this will be crisis-fighting measures. Or you can give social assistance by paying to businesses to help them out. You have a wide variety of solutions.
RBC: Do you find the government’s rescue scheme sufficient?
Shuvalov: I’m no longer with the government and I’m not involved in political management. The main thing is to use resources to make the economy stronger tomorrow. You must think about the economic situation in 2021–2022. Even during the previous crises, when a good many people believed there was no way out, there were others who were confident that everything positive was being created at the moment (I am among them). Because it’s necessary to work harder, look for new people who couldn’t be seen behind high oil prices, and rely on them.
“I don’t see who should keep working from home for VEB”
RBC: How many of your staff are working from home? And what’s your opinion of this experience? Perhaps it’s not reasonable any more to make somebody return to the office, is it?
Shuvalov: Our technologies and culture don’t make sure that even half our processes can be done completely outside the office. We are a business team, a team of experts. We have an office with open-plan workspaces, we need to see each other. I can walk the floor three or four times during the day and resolve 40 issues.
We introduced measures to prevent coronavirus infection earlier than the others. We placed sanitiser dispensers around the office in mid-March, recommended that people should wear face masks and changed the sick leave rules. It was decided that sick pay for two weeks should be equal to the salary rate, and people were recommended not to go to work at the first sign of a cold.
When the “high-alert regime” was declared, only our security officers were in the workplace. People from our finance department visited the office twice a week to make payments. To keep the team working, I came to the office or made videoconference calls. But that took place during the first two weeks.
After that, we got about a quarter of our employees to return to the office—the people without whom it was physically impossible to work—along with the entire management. Last week, 100 per cent of the staff were coronavirus tested, with three positive cases. We warned the people, identified those who were in close contact with them at and outside work, asked them to stay home. We are preparing for the return of 100 per cent from home on the 1st of June. We already have 50 or 60 per cent in the office. We are planning to bring the number to 75 per cent by the end of the week.
I don’t see who should keep working from home for VEB. Our organisation needs all the employees.
RBC: You don’t believe teleworking can be efficient, do you?
Shuvalov: It’s good to have it when you can’t get people together in the office. But this is not the same energy and not the same speed that we had before physical distancing measures. I often hear, “I have to do even more work.” I know it myself: we have conference calls, get tired, but I can’t tell you we produce better results.
“You need to understand that my status has changed”
RBC: How is your life affected by the epidemic? Do you wear a mask, do you obtain a pass from mos.ru?
Shuvalov: As with all our staff, I get my pass ordered by the security department. I’m wearing a mask in the office, and my colleagues are all wearing masks and gloves too.
RBC: Do you have any concern that mobility databases might be used in the future to restrict civil liberties?
Shuvalov: There is already plenty of information about us on the Web. Believe me, the pandemic hasn’t created anything in addition to it.
RBC: Has your family’s plane flown abroad recently? Have your family members departed from the country?
Shuvalov: No, all my family have been with me in Moscow during this difficult time.
RBC: Are your family’s assets still kept in a blind trust although you’re not a government official any more?
Shuvalov: You need to understand that my status has changed. Western democracies apply an approach like this: if you’re a public person, then you should be tolerant of invasion of privacy unless it threatens your personal safety or the safety of your family members. That is why I hadn’t previously found it necessary to defend myself publicly; I just did my job.
Everything changed, along with my status: though I’m with a government-owned corporation, I do business here. My family now have the right to privacy in full. I comply with all provisions of legislation on VEB.RF’s chairman; I don’t discuss this part of my life publicly.
I’m not hiding anything; everything I have is publicly described. When I became obliged to transfer all assets from abroad, I transferred all of them to Russia in 2013. But I’m ready to speak publicly only within the scope of my professional activity.
RBC: You suggested provisions about business and businesspeople should be added to the Constitution. Why do you need this amendment? Don’t you think an abundance of amendments would devalue the Constitution? What’s your attitude towards Valentina Tereshkova’s amendment enabling Vladimir Putin to take part in the next presidential election?
Shuvalov: I’ve heard calls for amendments to the Constitution for several years. It did not emerge just now. When the lively discussion began, I felt it was my duty to say that the definition of term “entrepreneurship” was outdated. It’s more than earning a profit. Entrepreneurs have become completely different people. OECD countries define entrepreneurial activity as creating value. I believe that such definitions should be introduced into Russian legislation too. Personally, I will go to vote.
VEB.RF Introduces Crisis-Fighting Measures to Support Regional PPP Projects
VEB.RF and the National PPP Development Center (part of the VEB.RF Group) have come up with a rescue plan to support the regions by providing fee-free expert advice on the preparation and launch of PPP projects. There are currently 40 pilot projects in the pipeline. If they prove successful, they will be extended to the other Russian regions. As of the beginning of May 2020, about 400 regional PPP projects were in jeopardy: their implementation can be postponed indefinitely. The rescue programme is primarily designed to substantially reduce the number of troubled PPPs and help the regions to avoid suspending their infrastructural initiatives.
“The national projects and social commitments undertaken by the regions and municipalities have not changed in relation to building new roads and community facilities, modernising public utility services and developing the urban environment and IT infrastructure. Public-private partnerships, including concession agreements, in such a situation can provide an optimum solution to avoid postponing the launch of infrastructural projects,” VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov said in a statement to the heads of constituent entities of the Russian Federation.
Experts from the VEB.RF Group and the National PPP Development Center are ready to conduct a strategic audit of infrastructural plans (government programmes, targeted investment programmes); make recommendations on whether it is practicable to use PPP mechanisms for their implementation; analyse the current situation in a region through the use of PPP mechanisms; provide access to remote training in the application of concession agreements and PPP agreements; conduct instant due diligence for projects; and offer assistance in setting up projects (preparing a road map, searching for potential partners and beneficiaries, and providing tailored support).
All work will be organised on a platform designed to support infrastructural projects, ROSINFRA (rosinfra.ru). When the relevant authorities connect to ROSINFRA and become its regular users, they will be able to promptly build up a portfolio of high-potential PPPs. Access to the largest database of projects and off-the-shelf solutions, along with online advice from leading market experts, will greatly reduce project costs and enhance the quality of project preparation. The service of promoting regional project initiatives is designed to improve and accelerate the search for investors and partners.
ROSINFRA already contains about 4,000 ongoing PPP projects and 700 project initiatives; 60 experts are involved in giving advice; major investors and financiers are among its regular users. Additionally, the projects posted on ROSINFRA and meeting VEB.RF’s requirements and mandate can seek funding from VEB.RF.
VEB.RF Starts to Finance Project to Supply Five Main-line Electric Freight Locomotives to Uzbekistan
VEB.RF has provided financing for the project to supply five 3ES5K main-line electric freight locomotives manufactured by Transmashholding, Russia, for O’zbekiston Temir Yo’llari (Uzbekistan Railways).
VEB.RF and the National Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Foreign Economic Activity (NBU) entered into a loan agreement in April 2020 to finance the supply project.
“Uzbekistan is one of VEB.RF’s leading partners in export projects, and the NBU is a reliable partner of VEB.RF. As part of efforts to build up trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan, our financial institutions have signed four loan agreements to date, totalling about 188 million euros. A project is well under way to supply underground carriages for the Tashkent Metro, along with projects to modernise power facilities. VEB.RF now has a whole range of projects in the pipeline to finance the supply of Russian high-tech products to the Republic of Uzbekistan,” VEB.RF’s Deputy Chairman Daniil Algulyan said.
VEB.RF is involved with the International Cooperation and Export national project and provides support for projects to promote Russian high-technology exports.
The NBU is the largest bank in Uzbekistan, accounting for about 24% of the country’s total bank assets. Currently, the bank has capital of 1,380 million US dollars and the same credit rating of BB- from Standard & Poor’s as the sovereign rating of Uzbekistan.
Rostec, ROSATOM and VEB.RF have agreed to build at least 25 energy-from-waste plants for sorted municipal solid waste (MSW). The parties are ready to set up facilities with the increased local content of Russian-made equipment around the most popular tourist destinations in Russia as well as in urban agglomerations having a population of 500,000 or above.
The project will cost an estimated 600 billion roubles, with VEB.RF’s planned commitment of about 200 billion roubles.
The cooperation agreement was signed by Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov, ROSATOM Director General Alexey Likhachev and VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov. The project is aimed at introducing global best practices in MSW management and reducing the environmental harm caused by landfill sites.
The project’s operator will be RT-Invest, a subsidiary of Rostec. As specified in the agreement, Rostec is to propose government support measures to launch and implement the project, including mechanisms such as capacity supply contracts in the wholesale electricity market and extended producer responsibility schemes.
“Waste management reform is under way in Russia, aiming to introduce separate collection and achieve zero dumping. The construction of 25 modern energy-from-waste plants will stop more than 80 new landfills from emerging, close down 25 existing dumping sites and save about 60,000 hectares of land. It’s worth noting that the plants will be the final link in the chain of waste management. They will handle unrecyclable fractions,” Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov said.
ROSATOM will be the project’s technology partner. The government-owned corporation is ready to supply primary equipment, provide a basic engineering package for the plants, ensure the application of foreign best available techniques in energy from waste, conduct pre-commissioning procedures and carry out running maintenance.
“We are committed to dealing with environmental issues responsibly and strive to contribute as much as we can to preserve the planet for future generations. As early as now, ROSATOM is able to manage industrial waste of Hazard Classes I and II. Our engineering division makes equipment not only for Russia’s first energy-from-waste plants but also for similar projects abroad. We’re currently ready to offer the partners our best technological capability and expertise to create a safe, modern MSW management and disposal system that will minimise environmental impacts,” ROSATOM Director General Alexey Likhachev said.
The project will be funded by VEB.RF, which is involved in the pilot project to build energy-from-waste plants for municipal solid waste in the Moscow Region. The project is the flagship in the portfolio of RT-Invest, a subsidiary of Rostec, and is the largest MSW project under the Environmental Protection national project.
“VEB.RF is ready to provide financing for the comprehensive programme to build 25 new plants in Russian regions. This represents a major step forward in building up an integrated waste management system in this country. We are also planning on attracting commercial banks, financial institutions and private investors to the project, including through public-private partnerships and green bonds,” VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov said.
When completed in full, the project will attract an inflow of an additional 459 billion roubles to Russian industrial production and will make it possible to create a new Russian industry having high export potential: a ready-to-use energy recovery solution will enable Russia to export it to India, Indonesia, South Africa and other countries intending to build energy-from-waste facilities.
The 25 energy-from-waste plants built in the regions will create about 25,000 jobs (approximately 1,000 per project site) during construction and 2,500 jobs during operation.
The Energy from Waste pilot project is implemented by RT-Invest, a subsidiary of Rostec. The project involves building four energy-from-waste plants in the Moscow Region (Voskresensk, Naro-Fominsk, Solnechnogorsk and Bogorodsky municipalities) and one plant in the Republic of Tatarstan. The project is consistent with the principles of circularity: separate collection, sorting, recycling, energy recovery. It is intended that the plants will start to generate a total of 2,320 million kWh of green electricity per year in 2022. Their construction uses Hitachi Zosen Inova technology from a global leader in energy from waste.
VEB.RF Guarantees RUB100bn in Surety Bonds for Zero-Interest Salary Loans
VEB.RF has completed the first phase of support for small and medium-sized enterprises by issuing surety bonds totalling 100 billion roubles to commercial banks that give salary loans with an interest rate of 0%.
The programme to issue surety bonds to commercial banks for zero-interest loans intended for salary payments is aimed not only at micro and small businesses but also at medium-sized enterprises.
VEB.RF is to issue surety bonds to guarantee at least 75% of interest-free salary loans to SMEs.
“VEB.RF acts as a reliable financial partner both for the government and commercial banks, and we have joined forces with them to support small and medium-sized enterprises. We got the transactions completed as quickly as we could. We find it important that the government’s rescue package should become accessible to businesses in the shortest possible time to help them to survive the acute phase,” VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov said.
The new banks that received VEB.RF surety bonds include Rosbank (0.75 billion roubles) and Raiffeisenbank (3.5 billion roubles).
VEB.RF had previously issued surety bonds to Sberbank, VTB, Promsvyazbank, Otkritie Bank, Alfa-Bank, Ak Bars Bank, Russian Agricultural Bank, SME Bank and Bank Saint Petersburg. In the case of certain banks (VTB, Russian Agricultural Bank and Gazprombank), surety bonds guarantee an increased amount of money and extend to medium-sized enterprises.
VEB.RF issued the surety bonds to the commercial banks under the Russian Government’s rescue scheme to support troubled businesses.