A Bank for Development’s function can be compared with an icebreaker ship’s operation

30 december 2014 года
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Vnesheconombank’s Exports Financing Department Director Daniil Aguljan told in his interview to Arsenal’s correspondent Petr RUSHAILO about Russia’s exports financial support system and about how mechanical engineering production facilities can benefit from using it.


“There is a great potential in mechanical engineering”

What projects in supporting mechanical engineering exports are the most important for Vnesheconombank?

-Vnesheconombank is trying to support all exports of high technology products of Russia’s non-raw materials economic sectors. As far as mechanical engineering is concerned, there is a great potential in various sectors. As to the current projects, we are active in cooperating with Russian manufacturers of aircraft, railway carriages,construction machinery, engines and other kinds of mechanical engineering products. It should be noted that power engineering industry is one of the central growth points of Russian exports. This is true of atomic as well as of traditional power engineering – manufacturingof gas and steam turbines, equipment related to construction of thermal and hydro power stations. A potential for enhancing exports is concentrated in this sector. There are efficient by international standards manufacturers in our country with strong production and client’sties in many regions of the world. So, our power engineering industry is a very attractive sector in terms of prospects for promoting Russian exports.

What is VEB responsible for here?

-One of Vnesheconombank’s objectives is to provide financial support for domestic manufacturers in the period of a project’s implementation on the terms that can compete with those offered by other countries’ export banks.

You are talking about providing support for exports alone or projects as a whole?

-For the most part - exports. Here I’d like to highlight two aspects. The first one is direct funding of export transactions, the second aspect is providing Russian exporters with a necessary bid package for them to be able to take part intenders. Funding assurance guarantees, advance payment guarantees, performance guaranteesare needed by many Russian exporters to be able to make bids to participate in many competitions and tenders as well as to simply hold business talks. It is not uncommon that there isn’t any business transaction yet but an entire package of potential funding needs to be demonstrated so, we also attach a lot of attention to such preliminary support for Russian exporters.

How would you size up the situation in the state system of Russian exports support?

-I would say that in the last years the Russian system of exports support has made a huge step forward. A system of comprehensive exports support was created, it is comprised of credit, guarantee, insurance, leasing instruments, mechanisms for subsidizing interest rates on export credits. This system is based on the international standards and rulesthat shaped up with due regard to OECD and WTO requirements. In the past 1.5-2 years, we have made a great headwayin institutional development. We can see that Vnesheconombank’s exports financing portfolio increased by almost 10 times and its guarantee portfolio – by more than two times. VEB’s aggregate export financing portfolio amounts now to more than 180 billion rubles. If you have a look at EXIAR (The Export Insurance Agency of Russia), Vnesheconombank’s subsidiary responsible for providing insurance support for export financing, you can see that it has made evident and impressive progress. At present, an Exports Credit and Insurance Support Center is being formed up on the basis of such VEB Group’s companies as OJSC EXIAR and CJSC Roseximbank. It is designed to substantially make exports support more affordable and massive.

But if we compare Russia with such key players in his field as China, the US and Germany we have to admit that our exports support system is pretty young.

What companies can become your customers in this case, are there any limitations on participating of Russian companies in similar programs in terms of their specialization? What are selection criteria for participating in VEB’s export contracts?

-Absolutely any company can become a customer, there are no limitations and we are responsible for providing support for all non-raw materials exports. And one of the most important criteria is availability of non-raw materials exports. If a company plans to export non-raw materials products from Russia, if it is interested in receiving pre-export financing, that is, financing of a Russian company for it to manufacture products under a specific export contract we a happy to explore the possibility of cooperation.

And if we deal with products that are not manufactured at a given production facility? And if it is a case of supplying abroad spare parts and fuel and lubricants for Russian helicopters?

-It goes without saying that this option is possible. To be more specific, we are active in supporting supplies of Russian spare parts for aircraft and helicopters being operated abroad. This is a very common case of export financing.

What foreign markets are most attractive for Vnesheconombank and in what regions does VEB operate most actively?

-As part of the exports support system, we are now working with more than forty countries. And the number of them is growing pretty fast.

Very important markets for us are naturally in South-East Asia and South Asia. Our potential here is substantial in terms of all kinds of mechanical engineering products. Here I mean aviation industry, power engineering industry and transport mechanical engineering. South and Central America are regions with potentially strong demand for Russian products. A good example here might be a large-scale project to supply SSJ110, which is funded by Vnesheconombank a part of international consortium. An interesting example is also VEB’s funding of the construction of power stations in Ecuador. We are also cooperating closely with our Brazilian and Argentinian partners.

As of today, Africa accounts for about a third of Vnesheconombank’s export portfolio. Here we have decades old well-functioning ties between African and Russian enterprises in mechanical engineering. We also participate in a project on supplying a satellite system to Angola. Algiers and the Middle East?

-Yes, of course, they are our old-time partners. Talking about the African continent, I also meant North Africa. We are working very closely on a great number of projects with both Egypt and Algiers. A global exports support system has been already formed at VEB. In this respect,I’dlike also to mention Central and Eastern Europe–now more and more projects related to this region are emerging.


“A Bank for Development’s function is to go with national manufacturers to foreign markets”

Many commercial banks are involved in supporting exports including non-raw materials exports, a great number of them are accredited under EXIAR. What’s the difference between VEB and a commercial bank if we are talking about funding export transactions?

-Vnesheconombank is a financial development institution and its operating principles differ from those of commercial banks, specifically upon supporting export transactions. The fact is that funding of foreign projects is traditionally regarded as a high risky and complicated business. And if we talk about non-raw materials exports, about high-technology products it is often a matter of long financing periods. So, as a rule commercial banks do not consider this sort of transactions as attractive as for example standardized financial banking products inside the country.And this is typical not only for Russia but also for all other countries. And under these conditions a bank for development’s function is to go with national manufacturers to foreign markets and try to create conditions for financial cooperation between countries making it possible in the future to engage commercial banks for cooperation. In this case, a bank for development’s function can be compared with an icebreaker ship’s operation.

By funding Russian exports, Vnesheconombank performs this very function. It’s task is to tap new markets, establish ties and show that projects can work efficiently. And then commercial banks would be interested in joining the process. And I’d like to say it once more that this is common international practice. For example, if you take Germany, there is the KfW Banking Group which is a financial development institution responsible for providing financial support and there is also a very strong banking sector there.

The principle is the same: first the state represented by the Bank for Development helps commercial financial institutions and then they themselves operate actively on foreign markets. The same is typical for France, the United States and other countries.

It’s quite clear in terms of ideology. But what does it mean in terms of financial indicators? Longer credit tenures, lesser interest rates?

-Yes, of course. In the first place – longer projects’ funding periods and as a rule - competitive interest rates on credits.

What are criteria for selecting projects besides a requirement for exports to be high technology products?

-Naturally, a borrower’s credit quality.As of today, our main products are credits to foreign buyers. We are trying to ensure competitive interest rates and funding periods that would help our producers to be on equal footing with foreign ones. Nevertheless, Vnesheconombank is a financial institution, which assesses risks, analyzes its borrowers and uses its banking and financial competence upon evaluating projects. We want not only to fund a project –we also want toget back the money invested in it.

Who are your main foreign borrowers? Are they private companies, governments, private companies guaranteed by their governments ?

-It’s different each time. We don’t have any clear-cut preferences here. There are, for example, private companies whose credit ratings are substantially higher than those of state-run companies. We analyze each project separately and try to form such a credit security package that would allow us to manage our risks most efficiently. There aren’t any limitations in this respect.

How does everything happen from technical point of view? For example, an exporter has found a counterparty abroad and brings it to you…

-If we mean a buyer’s credit there are two main options. First, our exporters often come to us and say that they plan to conduct a transaction and we start to establish contacts with buyers. But there might be a contrary situation. There are large foreign companies, which traditionally use Russian products. Having experience in working with VEB, they come to us and say that they intend to buy various products from a Russian producer. There is another separate line of activity when we extend tied loans in line with very common international practice to foreign banks for buying Russian exports. A local bank can often better assess prospects for business and quality of a local borrower - due to the regional specifics of doing business and financial reporting. It’s easier for us to assess a local bank’s credit quality because banking reporting is standardized as a whole all over the world.

Is there any specifics of funding supplies of military hardware?

-No, there isn’t as a whole in terms of financial instruments.

“High technology exports are custom-made products”

Funding is not enough to get on international market -you have to be able to work on it. Are you involved in consulting, do you help enterprises to tap markets andexecute transactions adequately?

-High technology exports are custom made products, this sort of projects are not standard. So, training process is going on continuously. We ourselves are learning a lot as part of these projects and try to share experience we gained working on a specific market with exporters.

As opposed to such traditional export powers as Germany, France or the United States a great number of Russian producers are not experienced enough in manufacturing products for exports. And we try to help them to tap new markets. Naturally,we can’t substitute specialized consulting firms we do not have competences related to, for example, industrial production and engineering technologies. But we try to provide financial support. Vnesheconombank is cooperating closely with Russian representative offices abroad, with the Economic Development Ministry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. We are interested not only in ensuring volumes of products to be supplied, we are also keen to maximally increase the number of companies working for exports.

How did sanctions affect the situation related to supplies of equipment and lending?

-Naturally, sanctions exacerbated the situation. On the other hand, it should be noted that main consumers of Russian technological exports are not among countries that joined the sanctions regime. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that opportunities for international funding of Russian projects have diminished. In terms of financial transactions, the situation also worsened in a technical sense. Quite often, projects in in which partners from EU countries and the US participate are rescheduled. But this damage hasn’t been catastrophic so far.

And what about borrowing costs? Because of the sanctions, money has become more expensive for all. Did it become more expensive for you?

-If global changes are taking place in the worldwe can’t remain uninvolved. But if we talk about exports support from exporters’ point of view this problem hasn’t been so acute so far as it is in the domestic market for most banks and companies and this results from subsidizing interest rates. We have been so far competitive on the world’s market.

Are there enough attractive high technologyprojects that could be sold on the world’s market?

-We have enough projects. There is a problem that I have already mentioned – a great number of enterprises do not have considerable experience in working abroad. Therefore, these projects require additional monitoring and preparation. We have to do a lot of information and consulting work for them to enter the market.

VEB is usually associated with major state projects. What is your smallest project?

-If it is a matter of guarantees, the smallest projects related to supplies of mechanical engineering products were worth about several thousand dollars. The smallest credit facility agreement signed this year was worth about 900 thousand dollars, the largest – 500 million dollars.

This means that medium-sized enterprises can participate in Vnesheconombank’s programs?

-They participate actively. At present, we are cooperating intensely not only with the largest companies but also with medium-sized enterprises.

How do you form your portfolio of projects? What does an enterprise need to do to get into Vnesheconombank’s program?

-Here, standard banking procedures are used. An enterprise is to apply to Vnesheconombank and submit a request. We analyze it, examine financial statements, a business plan and a financial model. Then we submit required information to consideration by VEB’s corporate governance bodies authorized to make a decision on a transaction. Recently we have succeeded in accelerating considerably a decision-making process.As far as more or less standardized products are concerned a decision-making process takes now 40 business days and this is in line with a level of western countries’ development banks.

Quite recently, we have launched a new electronic platform, which enables us to ensure advanced online interaction with customers on all export services of Vnesheconombank Group in a single window format.

Who participates in this “single export window”?

-First, Vnesheconombank itself of course with its exports financing department. The Bank extends export credits to buyers and pre-export financing to sellers, conducts documentary operations as well as extends guarantees. Second, our subsidiary EXIAR,which is responsible for insuring credits. Third, VEB’s subsidiary Bank, namely, Roseximbank, which acts as an agent for state guarantees. And finally, VEB-Leasing, Russia’s largest leasing company which we actively use as a leasing instrument upon structuring transactions. Moreover, Vnesheconombank hassubsidiary companies and representative offices abroad. Thus, by connecting to Vnesheconombank’s electronic platform yon get access to resources of this entire system. It’s very important for us as the new systemwould ease the workfor both Vnesheconombank Group’s institutionsand for our partners.

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Vnesheconombank Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev’s Interview to the TV Channel Russia 24

17 december 2014 года
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Correspondent: Hello, Vladimir Alexandrovich. Let me start with congratulating you here in Bahrain on your Bank’s anniversary. The Bank for Development is going to be 90 years old on December 16.

Vladimir Dmitriev: Thank you.

Correspondent: In general, they call Bahrain a sort of Arab Switzerland where talks have been underway for several days about all events in the Persian Gulf. What sort of talks are you holding here?

Vladimir Dmitriev: I’m here in two capacities – first,as the Head of the Bank for Development. In this respect, we have been building up for a long time close constructive relations with Bahrain, its financing, economic institutions and business communities and second,I’m also here as the co-chairman of the Russian part of the Russian-Bahrain Business Council. In this respect, we have already done a lot but there is more to be done in the future. Especially, given that the management of the Bahrain part of the Business Council has changed. The management and the composition of the Business Council have been augmented and this encourages us to expand our bilateral cooperation in the interests of both countries.

Correspondent: What are the practical results of this cooperation? Have you signed any agreements?

Vladimir Dmitriev: I don’t know anything about agreements that might be signed in so far as it relates to Russian business. We discussed various sectors that are of interest for potential investors and Bahrain. They include medicine, pharmaceutics, IT-technologies, logistics, transport, projects on the development of agriculture and food industry. Bahrain and other Gulf countries provide themselves with foodstuffs through imports. They import foodstuffs from Australia and New Zealand but it might be more profitable for them to import food products from Russia. There is a great potential here for developing gas sector. Bahrain is not a gas producer so it uses its geographical position in some sense as a HUB. Bahrain hopes to cooperate with Gazprom and other institutions to provide itself and other countries with this raw material.

Correspondent: And can you carry out financial monitoring of this project.

Vladimir Dmitriev: Of course, we can. We hope that supplies of products with high added value from Russia can and must be financially supported by Vnesheconombank which also gives high priority to supporting Russian industrial exports of agricultural products. We have a great potential for this.

Correspondent: Let’s talk about supporting Russian industry and agriculture. Recently theRussian Government has made a decision to expand VEB’s powers and entitle it to buy foreign assets for Russian buyers. What assets do they mean and why did they make this decision.

Vladimir Dmitriev:Essentially, it just formalizes Vnesheconombank status as a development institution which is designed to support not only Russian industrial exports but also Russian investments abroad. To this end, the Export Insurance Agency of Russia was established. So, we have created a pretty efficient institution to support Russian businessmen who are ready to invest abroad. Here I mean above all sectors related to a transfer of technology, these are advanced production facilities designed to enhance positions of Russian medium-sized enterprises both abroad and in our country. Unfortunately, we don’t see any mass demand for financial instruments in innovation sectors inside the country. Maybe it exists but unfortunately we can’t ensure interaction between financial institutions and medium-sized enterprises because risks of purchasing high technology companies abroad are high.

Correspondent: In fact, are you going to buy high technology companies in the West? Are they going to sell you such companies? We all remember that several years ago, Sberbank and Avtovaz tried to buy Opel and they failed to do it at that time. The current political situation is more complicated. Will you be able to buy these assets? There are many examples when Russian business owns or co-owns advanced processing facilities. They are associated with activities of KAMAZ and “Rostechnologies” and there are also examples whenRussian companies become firmly established on their own or with Vnesheconombank’s assistance in foreign markets as for example a company which is a leader in software supercomputer manufacturing, namely, T-Platforms Company where Vnesheconombank is a shareholderwith a blocking stake. The company is operating successfully not in our country but also abroad, specifically in Germany. Therefore, in the current situation we hope that our potential for supporting Russian investments abroad will be needed.

Correspondent: Not long agoVnesheconombank filed a lawsuit with the Court of Justice of the EuropeanUnion in opposition to the sanctions. Is the litigation going ahead?

Vladimir Dmitriev: It’s going aheadas we expected under the procedures typical of European legal institutes.

Correspondent:It’s a politically correct answer.And what’s going in actual fact?

Vladimir Dmitriev: It’s an answer in line with the reality. In actual fact,we do not expect any speedy solutions. We are not the only ones, you know that other Russian banks and companies filed similar lawsuits. We are on equal footing and we are coordinating our moves to the extent we can but we can see that a decision-making process is rather lengthy. We know how a legal system works including abroad especially with respect to countries that imposed sanctions on us and companies that were hit by our Western-European partners’ sanctions.

Correspondent: This means that politics influences not only economy but also court.

Vladimir Dmitriev: So far, wehaven’t seen any deliberate sabotage but we are also aware that our colleagues are not going to step up their efforts.

Correspondent: The Bank was denied access to foreign currency because of the sanctions.

Vladimir Dmitriev: We are being funded and make payments within a period of up to 30 days.

Correspondent: Nevertheless,sanctions cause problems. Projects are often funded in dollars and euros.What back ways are you looking for?The word is that you can find back ways with the help of Asian banks?

Vladimir Dmitriev:Nobody is going to look for back ways. We traditionally cooperate closely with our partners from South-East Asia – in particular with Chinese banks. Our main partner is the China Development Bank. We also cooperate with China’s Eximbank and a number of other financing institutions. Our Bank has become a full member in the AssociationofDevelopment Financing Institutions inAsiaand thePacific, an annual session of which was held for the first time this year in Moscow. But it goes without saying that having come up against limited access to capital markets in Europe and the United States we are cooperating with our Asian partner more actively.

Correspondent: Will you be able to raise dollar liquidity?

Vladimir Dmitriev: We are already doing this. Here we do not deal with pure funding but with tied loans. Recently we have raised a credit worth several billion dollars from China’s Eximbank. The loan is tied to supplies of Chinese equipment and it can compete with equipment of European countries.

Correspondent: Aren’t you talking about supplies of component parts for the Superjet100.

Vladimir Dmitriev: No, I’m talking about supplies of Chinese high technology products. But on the other hand the SukhoiSuperjet 100 is also being sold abroad. As many as 12 planes are already flying in Mexico. There is a contract for another 10 aircraft. Our Mexican partners are delighted by this aircraft and it is flying not only in Mexico but also in Latin American countries and even in the US. We can see that localpartners and airlines show interest in this airliner because the need for this aircraft is great. And we are proud of this because we managed to use all mechanisms for exports comprehensive support including VEB-Leasing and EXIAR. Here we rely on our cooperation with state insurance agencies from France and Italy.

Correspondent: So, they want to sell their own?

Vladimir Dmitriev: To some extent. You are right saying “their own” because 60% of this aircraft content comes from foreign partners. Our Italian and French partners participated in manufacturing engines and avionics. Airliners intended for Mexico are assembled in Italy, in Venice. Therefore, despite the sanctions life goes on.

Correspondent: I can’t help asking you about your assets in Ukraine. VEB owns Prominvestbank there. What can you tell me about its future? My understanding is that you’re planning to additionally capitalize it.

Vladimir Dmitriev:We are planning to additionally capitalize it for an amount needed by the bank to comply with regulations of the Ukrainian National Bank. Given an unfavorable situation in Ukraine’s banking sector and liquidity outflow, we also intend to support the bank with liquidity because Prominvestbank is one of the largest creditors of Ukraine’s real economy. I’d like to say that outflow of customers’ funds – funds of both natural and legal entities varies depending on a bank and its involvement in a particular business from half a billion to several billion dollars. Of course, this affects banks’ stability very much.

Moreover, payment discipline in the Ukrainian banking system is extremely low. This year the proportion of credits that are repaid in accordance with original repayment schedules is as little as 20%. You can see that this delivers a heavy blow to stability and financial standing of the banking system. Our Bank is one of the largest and we are determined to provide necessary assistance to Prominvestbank.

Correspondent: This means that you are not going to scale down your business in Ukraine.

Vladimir Dmitriev: This is not our goal.

Correspondent:Vladimir Alexandrovich, thank you very much for your interview.

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Vnesheconombank Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev’s Interview to "DER TAGESSPIGEL"

1 december 2014 года
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Die Sanktionen des Westens treffen die Mittelschicht

DER Tagesspiegel,
30 nov. 2014

Seit Juli bekommen Russlands staatliche Banken auf dem westlichen Kapitalmarkt keine langfristigen Kredite mehr. Das "schadet erheblich", sagt Vladimir Dmitriev, Chef der Entwicklungsbank , und warnt: Der Westen strafe die Falschen und destabilisiere auch die ukrainischen Banken.

Sie sind in Deutschland, um Ihre deutschen Geschäftspartner zu treffen. Gibt es da noch viel zu besprechen?

Aber ja, ganz besonders in diesen schwierigen Zeiten. Manche haben sogar Angst, dass ihre russischen Unternehmen verstaatlicht werden. Aber das ist Unsinn, das werden wir ganz sicher nicht tun.

Vermutlich wollen aber viele jetzt schnell raus aus Russland, oder?

Nein, so ist das nicht. Die jetzige Lage schreckt Unternehmer ab, in Russland neue Geschäfte aufzubauen, das stimmt leider. Aber die Unternehmen, die etabliert sind, oft schon seit Jahrzehnten, die werden sich gewiss nicht zurückziehen, warum sollten sie? Volkswagen zum Bespiel hat im Bezirk Kaluga ebenso wie Volvo und andere westliche Konzerne eine Produktion und großes Interesse, das auszubauen. Schließlich treffen ihre Autos auf große Nachfrage.

Fürchten Sie nicht, diese könnte Ihre letzte Reise nach Deutschland sein, weil Sie auch auf die Liste der unerwünschten Personen gesetzt werden?

Ach wissen Sie, ich weiß noch, wie es im Kalten Krieg war. Ich bin auf alle Szenarien vorbereitet.

Die EU und die USA haben jedenfalls ihre Bank schon mit Sanktionen belegt. Darum dürfen Sie keine Kredite mehr auf dem westlichen Kapitalmarkt aufnehmen. Trifft Sie das?

Selbstverständlich, wir können fällig werdende Darlehen in Dollar und Euro nicht mehr verlängern. Aber wir sind eine staatliche Bank. Die Regierung und die Zentralbank werden die nötigen Devisen aus den Reserven bereitstellen. Bis Ende 2015 werden wir Auslandschulden von rund 1,4 Milliarden Dollar zurückzahlen, da müssen sich unsere Kreditgeber keine Sorgen machen.

Auch die deutsche Staatsbank KfW hat die Zusammenarbeit mit Ihrer Bank auf Eis gelegt. Hat das praktische Folgen?

Ja, das bedaure ich sehr. Die KfW war bisher ein sehr wichtiger Partner. Jetzt hat sie eines unserer wichtigsten Projekte eingefroren. Wir wollten gemeinsam mit der Europäischen Investitionsbank einen Fonds mit 720 Millionen Euro auflegen, um damit die Produktion von innovativen Technologien bei kleinen und mittleren Unternehmen zu finanzieren. Das zeigt, wie die Sanktionen die Falschen treffen. Sie sollen die russische Regierung bestrafen, aber sie treffen die normalen Leute. In diesen Unternehmen, die wir fördern wollten, da arbeiten genau die Mittelschichtbürger, die so wichtig sind für eine stabile Demokratie.

Welche Folgen haben die Sanktionen für Russlands Bankensystem insgesamt?

Sie schaden erheblich, das ist kein Geheimnis. Das Finanzministerium schätzt, dass unsere Wirtschaft dadurch 40 Milliarden Dollar im Jahr verliert. Die fünf staatlichen Banken, die sich jetzt nicht mehr im Ausland refinanzieren können, sind wichtige Kreditgeber für die russische Wirtschaft. Und leider kann unser eigener Kapitalmarkt die externe Finanzierung nicht ersetzen. Allerdings sind wir nicht die einzigen Verlierer. Nach dem Sanktionsbeschluss der EU sind die deutschen Exporte nach Russland um 26 Prozent gefallen. Das Sanktionsschwert hat eben zwei Schneiden und schadet letztlich allen. Das sehe ich wie Henry Kissinger, der kürzlich gewarnt hat, dass die Eskalation der Sanktionen der ganzen Weltwirtschaft schaden könnte.

Sie haben gemeinsam mit den anderen vier Staatsbanken beim Europäischen Gerichtshof Klage gegen die Sanktionen eingereicht. Glauben Sie wirklich, die Richter werden sich gegen die Regierungen stellen?

Ja, weil die genannten Gründe für die Sanktionen auf uns gar nicht zutreffen. Im Beschluss heißt es, es sollen Institutionen bestraft werden, die in den Konflikt in der Ukraine verwickelt sind. Aber weder wir noch die anderen Banken haben irgendetwas damit zu tun. Im Gegenteil, wir haben eine Tochterbank dort und wir unterstützen die ukrainische Wirtschaft.

Ihre Bank ist aber Teil des russischen Staates, dessen Regierung den Bürgerkrieg anheizt.

Einige iranische Institutionen, die in Luxemburg erfolgreich geklagt haben, sind auch staatlich, etwa die iranische Zentralbank. Aber weil es keinen Nachweis für deren Verwicklung in illegale Geschäfte gab, haben die EU-Richter die Sanktion gegen sie aufgehoben.

Präsident Putin sagte im deutschen Fernsehen, die Sanktionen würden letztlich auch die Ukraine treffen, weil ukrainische Banken 25 Milliarden Euro Schulden in Russland haben, die womöglich fällig gestellt werden müssen. Wird das so kommen?

Es gibt diesen Zusammenhang. Die Tochterbanken russischer Konzerne haben in der Ukraine einen großen Marktanteil und haben nun auch den Zugang zum westlichen Kapitalmarkt verloren. Den würden sie aber dringend brauchen. Die Lage in der Ukraine ist katastrophal. Das Bruttoinlandsprodukt ist um sieben Prozent gefallen, die Industrieproduktion sogar um 16 Prozent, vier Fünftel aller Kredite werden nicht pünktlich bedient. Darum benötigen alle Banken, und eben auch die in russischer Hand, neues Kapital. Wenn sie das nicht bekommen können, weil auch ihre Eigentümer nicht genug haben, gefährdet das das ganze ukrainische Bankensystem.

Vladimir Dmitriev, 61, ist seit 2004 Chef der staatlichen
Vneshekonombank (VEB), der er seit 1997 angehört. Der
promovierte Ökonom war zuvor im Außen- und
Finanzministerium tätig.

Wie ist das bei Ihrer eigenen Bank in Kiew, der Prominvest?

Auch wir verlieren dort Geld. Trotzdem halten wir daran fest. Wir haben professionelle Beziehungen zur ukrainischen Zentralbank, deren Chefin versprochen hat, russische Banken genauso zu behandeln wie alle anderen.

Russland und die Ukraine liegen de facto im Krieg, aber Ihre Geschäfte laufen einfach weiter?

Die Industrie in beiden Ländern ist eng verbunden, vor allem im Maschinenbau und der Luft- und Raumfahrt. Das haben wir über Prominvest finanziert. Jetzt ist es viel schwieriger, aber wir bemühen uns. Mich persönlich schmerzt das alles sehr. Meine Frau ist Ukrainerin und wir haben jedes Jahr mit den Kindern Ferien in unserm Landhaus bei Charkiw gemacht. Aber jetzt trauen wir uns mehr dorthin, weil wir uns nicht sicher fühlen.

Werden die Sanktionen auch Russland in die Rezession stürzen?

Das größere Problem ist die schlechte Weltkonjunktur und der Fall des Ölpreises von 110 auf 80 Dollar pro Fass. Allein das kostet uns 100 Milliarden Dollar im Jahr. Die Sanktionen machen es nur schlimmer, vor allem weil die ausländischen Investitionen ausbleiben. Wir erwarten daher einen Rückgang des Wachstums auf 0,3 Prozent in diesem Jahr und vielleicht eine Stagnation im nächsten. Doch ich bin sicher, dass die Regierung alles tun wird, um eine Rezession zu verhindern, vor allem durch Investitionen in die Infrastruktur.

Wer soll das bezahlen?

Das Geld kommt aus dem Staatshaushalt und von der Zentralbank. Die hat sich bisher zurückgehalten, aber sie wird nun den Banken zusätzliches Geld bereitstellen, um solche Investitionen zu finanzieren.

Also eine Art „Quantitative Easing“, wie es auch die amerikanische Notenbank betrieben hat?

Das können Sie so nennen, aber bei uns wird es in die reale Wirtschaft fließen, nicht auf den Aktienmarkt.

Auch der Wert des Rubels ist um 40 Prozent abgestürzt. Wie erklären Sie sich das?

Der Rubelkurs folgt dem Ölpreis, das war schon immer so.

Liegt es nicht vor allem daran, dass die Reichen ihre Rubel verkaufen und ihre Vermögen ins Ausland schaffen? Seit März sind schon 128 Milliarden Dollar abgeflossen.

Das ist ganz normal. Unternehmen und Händler, die Importe bezahlen müssen, sichern sich ab und kaufen deshalb Dollar und andere Währungen, die sie bei ausländischen Banken deponieren.

Wenn die Kapitalflucht eskaliert, wird die Regierung dann Kapitalverkehrskontrollen verhängen?

Welche Kapitalflucht? Das sind übliche Zahlungsflüsse. Russland hat sich einem liberalen Finanzsystem verschrieben, und das wird auch so bleiben.

Müssen Sie nicht fürchten, dass die Ratingagenturen Russland und damit auch Ihre Bank herabstufen?

Ach, sollen sie doch! Diese Drohungen sind haltlos. Russland hat seit vielen Jahren einen Haushaltsüberschuss und große Reserven. Würden sie unsere Kreditwürdigkeit herabstufen, dann würden die Agenturen nur belegen, dass ihre Urteile keine wissenschaftliche Grundlage haben. Dann müssten wir ernsthaft Alternativen für das Rating finden, vielleicht zusammen mit China.

Russische Firmen haben 500 Milliarden Dollar Auslandschulden, davon stehen 130 Milliarden Dollar bis Ende 2015 zur Rückzahlung an. Werden Sie das noch bezahlen können, wenn Sie keine neuen Kredite bekommen?

Unsere Gold- und Währungsreserven liegen bei 400 Milliarden Dollar, also könnte man darauf zurückgreifen. Aber viele Unternehmen können auch ohne Staatshilfe ihre Kredite im Ausland bedienen, weil sie eigenes Auslandsvermögen haben oder Inlandsguthaben umtauschen können. Unsere westlichen Partner sollten sich allerdings im Klaren sein, dass die Kredite unter den Regeln offener Kapitalmärkte aufgenommen wurden. Wenn diese Regeln nun gebrochen werden, dann könnten Kreditnehmer auch höhere Gewalt reklamieren. Dazu sollten wir es nicht kommen lassen.

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Bank Founded Under Lenin Hunts for Funding Amid Sanctions (Bloomberg)

30 october 2014 года
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Vnesheconombank is beating a retreat from debt markets after last year holding the biggest Eurobond sale by a Russian financial borrower since 2008.

Russia’s state development bank, which traces its roots to a lender formed in 1922 under Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin to raise capital and facilitate trade for the fledgling Bolshevik regime, is now turning to government funding, Asian investors and asset sales three months after European and U.S. penalties over Ukraine curtailed its access to foreign markets, Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev said.

“Times have changed, and access to previous sources of financing is practically closed for us,” Dmitriev, who’s headed the bank for a decade, said in an interview in Moscow. “Still we aren’t feeling like a downed pilot. Sanctions just pushed us to revise our credit and investment activity.”

Waging Financial War

The bank, which has lent $40 billion to back projects from Olympic construction to agriculture and the manufacture of airplanes, is pivoting toward state funding to cut its reliance on debt financing. VEB, as the bank is known, is cut off from some foreign capital markets after the U.S. and the European Union zeroed in on individuals and companies to punish Russia for the annexation of Crimea in March and President Vladimir Putin’s alleged support for the separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Government Support

With the country walled off from foreign funding and sapped by capital outflows, state companies including Russian Agricultural Bank and oil producer OAO Rosneft are increasingly looking to the government to offset their shrinking funding base.

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions that prohibit transactions in, provision of financing for, or other dealings in new debt of greater than 90 days’ maturity for a range of companies. For banks, the debt financing restriction covers maturities greater than 30 days. The EU later joined the U.S. in tightening sanctions, restricting five state-owned Russian lenders in their ability to sell bonds or shares within the bloc.

Life under sanctions is testing the flexibility of VEB, which was revamped by Putin in 2007 to promote investment and finance long-term infrastructure projects. During the following two years, it also managed the government’s bailout program at the height of the financial crisis, helping rescue troubled companies and banks and buying domestic securities to support financial markets.

Mission Unchanged

Its mission to boost investment and diversify the Russian economy remains unchanged in the face of limited access to global capital markets, according to Dmitriev. That means the role of state funding, which was “secondary” in importance for VEB, will grow.

VEB’s supervisory board, headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, on Oct. 16 approved the bank’s strategy through 2020. It set targets including increasing VEB’s loan portfolio to at least 2.5 trillion rubles ($58.5 billion) from 1.7 trillion rubles, Dmitriev said. The bank will also channel 750 billion rubles to support exporters and issue as much as 265 billion rubles of loans to small businesses until 2020.

To support the plans, the government and the central bank are discussing measures to prop up the bank’s finances, according to Dmitriev. The supervisory board agreed on an annual capital boost of 30 billion rubles, which is possible in the form of a cash infusion or sovereign securities that can be used to get liquidity from the central bank, Dmitriev said, adding that he’s hopeful to get the first transfer by year-end.

‘Comfortable’ Cushion

The government will also convert $5.9 billion from VEB deposits that hold cash from the National Wellbeing Fund into its subordinated deposits, bringing capital adequacy to a “comfortable” 14.9 percent, according to Dmitriev.

Other support measures include the central bank’s decision to raise its limit on VEB’s borrowing. The development lender will also get 310 billion rubles from the government next year to repay foreign debt and finance already approved projects.

It has to pay back as much as 70 billion rubles to international lenders next year, according to Dmitriev. VEB wants to avoid using state aid to pay down 107 billion rubles in domestic debt in 2015, he said.

Chinese Option?

Dmitriev says he’s hopeful that China will step in as an alternative source of funding if it eases access to its capital markets. Financing in offshore yuan is now limited to $300 million, which isn’t enough for VEB, he said. This month, the Russian lender agreed to borrow $2 billion from Export-Import Bank of China.

To ease the pressure on its balance sheet, VEB is also working to sell off assets such as the Novinsky Passage shopping center in Moscow. Its other holdings, which include a stake of about 3.6 percent in Russia’s natural-gas exporter, OAO Gazprom, and 3.1 percent in United Co. Rusal, can be only sold when their market price recovers, Dmitriev said.

The lender paid about 30 billion rubles in 2010 for its Rusal stake that’s now valued at about 11 billion rubles.

VEB uses shares of companies like Rusal to get funding in repurchase transactions with the central bank, he said. It’s in talks with the regulator on using American depositary receipts of Gazprom as collateral, according to Dmitriev.

Court Challenge

As the bank is adjusting to the new limitations, it’s also challenging them in court. Last week, VEB and Russia’s two biggest banks, OAO Sberbank and VTB Group, filed claims against the EU in a bid to lift the punitive measures.

Dmitriev acknowledges feeling “upset” when he first learned in July that sanctions against his bank were possible.

“I understood perfectly well that we’ll have to work while facing limited opportunities,” he said.

The fallout from the standoff over Ukraine has hurt many longstanding business relationships, he said. Still, banks in Australia and New Zealand were the only ones to close VEB’s correspondent accounts, according to Dmitriev.

“Not a single American or European bank has done that,” he said. “We’re trying to maintain relations with international partners even as business has become impossible.”

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Vnesheconombank Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev’s Interview to TV Channel Russia 24

23 october 2014 года
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CORR: Good afternoon Vladimir Alexandrovich. Thank you very much for finding the time to talk with us. Let us sum up what has been just said at the conference especially under conditions of sanctions. What instruments – financial, administrative – do our exporters need the most?

Vladimir DMITRIEV, Vnesheconombank Chairman: Exporters in all spheres need to have industrial exports support institutions. At the Conference today we have said that a system of industrial exports comprehensive support is in place in our country. It is comprised of the Russian Economic Development Ministry, the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade and development institutions themselves that are responsible for providing support. They include Vnesheconombank – Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs, the Export Insurance Agency of Russia (EXIAR) and Russia’s largest leasing company VEB-Leasing, which is Vnesheconombank’s subsidiary. We also mentioned the fact that by creating this system we provide exporters not only with financial and insurance support but also with necessary information resources, which are of primary importance for exporters to know what mechanisms are available for Russian exporters to promote their products to foreign markets.

CORR: As far development of these institutions is concerned, last week you approved Strategy 15-20 and it was not a basic version but an upgraded one. What sort of version is it? What are its main points?

Vladimir DMITRIEV: In fact, last week we had a meeting of Vnesheconombank’s Supervisory Board, which approved a program of Vnesheconombank’s development, we call it a Strategy. Several versions were offered. Despite everything: despite a serious situation with the budget, despite the sanctions, our country should develop and development institutions should develop and be instrumental in developing the Russian economy. So, an upgraded version was approved. It provides for Vnesheconombank’s loan portfolio to increase to 2.5 trillion rubles by 2020. And an important thing is that Russian industrial exports with the assistance of Vnesheconombank and its subsidiaries will be provided with a support of 750 billion rubles, with 500 billion rubles accounting for credit support and 250 – for guarantee support. Of course, we hope that our subsidiaries will be supported and additionally capitalized, here I mean above all Roseximbank and this will enable a Center for Credit and Insurance Support, being created on the basis of EXIAR and Roseximbank, to operate in full strength. It should be kept in mind that Vnesheconombank was established among other things to support small and medium-sized enterprises and our strategy provides for supporting this segment of the Russian economy in the amount of 250 billion rubles. In approving our Strategy, the Government is aware that without the state’s support measures both in terms of liquidity and in terms of the Bank’s capitalization, it would be very difficult, if at all, to achieve the said results. So, these issues were also discussed. We discussed them at the meeting with the Russian Prime Minister where we considered measures for the state’s support of Vnesheconombank including its additional capitalization and the Bank’s fulfilment of obligations it assumed under credit agreements as well as repayment of debts to foreign creditors and capital markets.

CORR: What about the amount? If I am not mistaken, we talked about a basic scenario that provide for about 100 billion and if we talk about an upgraded scenario it must be even more.

Vladimir DMITRIEV: The fact is that under this strategy and given the need to increase its loan portfolio, the Bank is to be additionally capitalized in the amount of at least 30 billion rubles per year. As far as other support measures are concerned, the state believe that it and the Central Bank would expand the range of instruments to provide Vnesheconombank with liquidity. We can feel this support even now and we are grateful to the Central Bank for increasing Vnesheconombank’s limit from half capital to capital upon mutual guarantees of banks and this is more than 500 billion rubles. We are also holding talks with the Finance Ministry about expanding the range of instruments available for Vnesheconombank from the Finance Ministry and we can see positive reaction on the part of the Finance Ministry. I have already said today that in order to implement our strategy of supporting industrial exports we need financial resources to subsidize interest rates and extend credits to foreign importers. Now the Economic Development Ministry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade are considering our requests for an amount of 14 billion rubles - this a total amount of support to subsidize interest rates that we need to ensure the export of Russian industrial products to foreign countries.

CORR.: You have signed another very important agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China for an amount of 2 billion dollars. Do you know what projects you are going to finance with these funds?

Vladimir DMITRIEV: We have discussed concrete projects with our Chinese partners. The projects are associated with supplying Chinese equipment to Russia. I mean above all timber-industrial complex. I would not like to name specific projects now but they deal with timber-industrial complex, mechanical engineering production facilities, that is, sectors where Chinese equipment is competitive with the best foreign analogues.

CORR: And now my last question. On October 28, sanctions against Russia might be reconsidered. What’s your forecast? I guess it’s a thankless job to make forecasts especially about such geo-economic issues. Nevertheless, do you believe that sanctions might be softened a few days from now?

Vladimir DMITRIEV: In this respect, I have a conservative view. I don’t think that our foreign partners are likely to change their approaches to Russia. I believe that their policy toward Russia is linked not only to the situation in Ukraine although they say it is. I think there are deeper reasons. It remains to be seen. But I’d like to stress it once more that this time my position is rathere conservative.

CORR.: Thank you very much for your interview, Vladimir Alexandrovich.

Vladimir DMITRIEV: Thank you.

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