President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Shuvalov, VEB is not just a bank but, above all, a development corporation. I know that when you took office the situation this institution was in was far from easy, and you worked hard to make it operational, although it had done a great deal in the past.
Hence two questions. First, what is Vnesheconombank’s situation today? And second, how do you fit in this institution’s main mission and the implementation of national projects?
Chairman of the State Development Corporation VEB.RF Igor Shuvalov: Mr President, your instructions to ensure the financial stability of VEB.RF have been fulfilled, and by the end of 2019, having amended the budget legislation with the Government’s support and in cooperation with the Federal Assembly, we achieved the level of capital adequacy according to international reporting, IFRS [International Financial Reporting Standards] that allows us not only to repay our foreign debt that was incurred earlier but also to actively participate in the national development agenda as stipulated by the Presidential executive orders of May 2018.
There is sufficient liquidity in our accounts; in this sense we have a completely healthy, normal situation. We are also confident that now we will take a more active part in the Government’s work to achieve the national development goals, and not just in the projects outlined in 2019.
Which projects were approved in 2019? First, I must tell you that we completely restructured our activities and do not compete with the largest Russian credit institutions anymore.
We have established partnerships with the largest commercial banks such as Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank, and together with them we participate in the project financing factory. This is a special form of syndication. However, we also use classical syndicates, but in 2019 we made decisions on the ten largest projects.
Overall, we have now assumed over 300 billion rubles worth of liabilities while total liabilities in the project financing factory projects stand at 787 billion rubles, with only a part of them provided by VEB and the rest by investors and commercial banks.
Under our business model, this year we are to support lending by commercial banks by at least 300 billion rubles, bearing in mind that, if we implement such a plan, we will invest about three trillion rubles in five years, and together with the credit funds of commercial banks, the amount will total about 10 trillion. This is quite a lot of money.
These projects relate to natural gas conversion and leasing gas carriers, which will be built and are already being built at Zvezda shipyard – this is one of the largest projects under your control. They also include the supply of planes for the needs of Aeroflot, and highways – one of the sections of the Central Ring Road and other federal highways.
But the main thing is that we should not be the sole lender. When we have to work as the sole lender, then this is a special decision taken by the President and the Government on projects of national importance. When we become a lender. But the risk for commercial companies is so high that they do not take this risk at the initial stage of a project.
What do we see? When a project begins to be implemented, commercial lending is already possible, and commercial banks themselves suggest we leave the project and buy such a loan from us. We made several such transactions, one of which was very successful – for example, the new terminal at Sheremetyevo, which was built with the help of VEB. But when it was devised and launched, Sberbank showed great interest in this project, and we gave it ground, earning the corresponding commission.
Now this is the time to focus on national development goals. We work not only as one organisation, but under the new law on VEB, in coordination with organisations such as the SME Corporation, which supports small and medium-sized businesses, REC [Russian Export Centre], which provides export support, and DOM.RF corporation, which is associated with modern urban development. In this sense, we work in all project committees of the Government.
I hope that now comes the stage when we can focus on work in cities. And we are launching now a training programme – the Government has entrusted us with this task – for the management teams from one hundred cities, excluding Moscow and St Petersburg, in order to fill the work with municipalities with specific meaning.
That is, if at the federal level these are large, major projects that are valued at more than 10 trillion rubles, then we want to focus, together with municipal and regional organisations, on making these national projects meaningful for every family, so that their life becomes decent, comfortable and competitive.
That is, these are some of the best consumption patterns that can only exist. In this sense, Moscow set a definite trend in the modern arrangement of cities. But we believe that this applies to any, even the smallest town.
Vladimir Putin: All right.