VEB.RF Begins to Provide Financing for Russian Railways Digital Transformation Projects Supported by Digital Development Ministry
VEB.RF and Russian Railways have entered into a loan agreement for 8.9 billion roubles to support the investment programme for Russian Railways digitalisation through the introduction of Russian IT solutions. The low-interest loan is given under the programme of the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media to support corporate digital transformation based on Russian solutions.
The low-interest lending mechanism is provided by the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation under the Digital Technologies federal project as part of the Digital Economy of the Russian Federation national programme.
VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov said: “The Digital Development Ministry and VEB.RF are active in working on projects to achieve the national development goals set by the Russian President. VEB.RF is to provide financing to support the large-scale digital transformation of Russian Railways, which will help the company to go digital faster to improve its passenger and freight traffic management, enhance traffic safety, ensure cost transparency and increase its customer focus and workforce productivity.”
“Digitalisation is one of the main tools to transform Russian Railways into a modern and innovative company. By going digital, we are trying to find how to make our work more efficient and, at the same time, getting closer to our customers—passengers and shippers. VEB.RF traditionally supports us by providing financing for infrastructural projects, and I’m sincerely pleased that they’ve also become our digital partner,” said Oleg Belozerov, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board, Russian Railways.
“The low-interest lending programme implemented by the Digital Development Ministry in partnership with Russian major banks aims to support the introduction of domestic digital solutions into companies. The borrower ultimately pays interest of 1 to 5%, and the company can get funding of up to 10 billion roubles. The total credit portfolio is now about 35 billion roubles, while the agreement between Russian Railways and VEB.RF is one of the largest,” said Maxim Parshin, Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation.
The loan is given by VEB.RF for Russian Railways digital transformation projects aimed at:
- introducing modern management technologies for transport, infrastructure, personnel and electronic documentation,
- creating a new generation of workstations based on domestically made processors,
- introducing import-independent software using digital twins, the Internet of Things, big data, distributed ledgers (including blockchains), simulation modelling and machine learning.
The above-mentioned technologies will make it possible to obtain reliable real-time information about the status of transport processes, production facilities and repair operations, automate routine operations and ensure effective managerial decision-making at a qualitatively new level.
VEB.RF and Strelka KB Study: How New Campuses Can Meet Contemporary Challenges of Students, Universities, Cities and Regions
With support from the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, VEB.RF and Strelka KB carried out a study into the current needs and problems of Russian students and universities. The study served as a basis for scenarios of how to set up modern interuniversity campuses in seven Russian pilot cities. The integrated project to create an innovative educational environment (campuses) through public-private partnerships will ensure the achievement of the targets specified in the Infrastructure federal project under the Science and Universities national project, encourage the development of educational infrastructure and bring into existence a qualitatively new educational and urban environment. The implementation of such projects in the regions will contribute towards the national goal “Opportunities for Self-actualization and Talent Development”.
In the seven pilot cities of the project—Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Nizhni Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Perm, Tyumen and Tomsk—53% of universities face a shortage of student accommodation. More than 20% of students are not provided with occupancy rooms. At the same time, sociological studies show that student accommodation and its quality are key to selecting a university among non-resident and foreign applicants. In the course of surveys and interviews, respondents made known their vision of the perfect campus and expressed their ideas about the social and commercial functions, occupancy rooms and socio-cultural programmes of campuses. Using a new form of an innovative educational environment, namely interuniversity campuses, will help to meet the needs of students, attract talented applicants to regional universities and create new centres of urban life.
“Such projects are unique in Russia and combine private returnable investment with federal co-financing. VEB.RF built an economic and financial model for the campus and proposes that the integrated project to create an innovative educational environment should be implements in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. This is about a modern complex with sports facilities, coworking spaces, lecture halls, technology parks, libraries and, of course, living accommodation for students and teachers. The new format of campuses should become the core of a developing urban space and urban environment. This is a fundamentally new model: the creation of a smart space that geographically combines educational facilities with residence halls, with the entire infrastructure growing around this area,” said Svetlana Yachevskaya, Deputy Chairperson and member of the Board, VEB.RF.
It is intended that the study will provide the basis for pilot projects for interuniversity campuses. The scenarios include spatial planning, the functional distribution of floors, and the arrangement of residence halls. These projects can earn a total of over 36 billion roubles for the regional budgets. The seven pilot cities can provide accommodation for more than 51,000 people and create more than 2,000 jobs for small and medium-sized businesses. In addition, the new interuniversity campuses will make Russian academic programmes more attractive and will help to attract foreign students to Russia.
VEB.RF can use the findings of the study to conduct financial and economic due diligence for potential projects for interuniversity campuses in Russian cities. Such projects can be implemented under concession agreements or public-private partnership agreements. The study will help private investors to assess their interest in projects to set up comfortable and modern interuniversity campuses across Russia. As a development institution, VEB.RF considers its participation in the integrated campus project as an agent for the Russian Government. Additionally, VEB.RF can either seek private funding or provide financing for the project in partnership with banks.
“Interuniversity campuses are now created in the United States, Australia, India, Spain and other countries. The main distinguishing feature of this student accommodation is that these campuses can be shared by students studying at different universities. Common spaces on campus become places where representatives of different academic disciplines can communicate with each other, discussing the most challenging projects and collaborations for the first time. Commercial properties on campus are often popular among local residents, who can constitute as many as 90% of all visitors. The new campuses can, therefore, open up new opportunities for students and city dwellers, bring additional benefits for the universities and cities and nurture small businesses in Russian regions,” said Varvara Melnikova, CEO, Strelka Institute, and co-founder and partner, Strelka KB.
The study conducted by VEB.RF and Strelka KB shows that a modern campus provided with all necessary household appliances and furniture, conveniently located, easily accessible by public transport, and having a full range of social infrastructure facilities within walking distance can compare favourably with rented accommodation. Campus accommodation costs can, however, be comparable to those in the market.
The findings of the study can be found in more detail at http://campus.strelka-kb.com/.
VEB.RF Ranked First Among Russian and CIS Syndicate Arrangers in 2020 Cbonds Ranking
VEB.RF rose in rank to first position among Russian and CIS syndicate arrangers in 2020 by the value of transactions. VEB.RF’s market share in Russia exceeded 10 per cent in 2020.
VEB.RF became actively involved with syndicated lending in 2019 in partnership with commercial banks, including under the Project Financing Factory programme. VEB.RF became a major market player in 2020 among foreign and Russian first-class banks.
Yuriy Korsun, Deputy Chairman, VEB.RF:
“Syndicated lending is the quintessence of our philosophy of cooperating with commercial banks, a priority in our business strategy. Over the past two years, VEB.RF has taken part in 14 syndicated lending transactions totalling the equivalent of 24 billion US dollars, including ten projects under the Project Financing Factory programme. This is a considerable joint contribution made by VEB.RF and partner banks to the syndicated lending market both in terms of the value and quality of the projects. These figures represent major projects in gas processing and gas to chemicals, transport and port infrastructure, high value-added production and the digital economy. VEB.RF’s principal partners in our arranged transactions are the largest Russian banks, namely VTB Bank, Gazprombank, Otkritie Bank and Sber.
The further development of syndicated lending in Russia is also facilitated by the legislative changes adopted last December and actively supported by VEB.RF together with leading banks, law firms, ministries and agencies. The changes are designed to further the development of the Russian syndicated lending market and increase the number of its participants.”
The Cbonds ranking includes banks operating as syndicate arrangers in the Russian and CIS corporate debt markets and ranked by the value and number of arranged transactions.
VEB.RF and En+ Group Sign Strategic Partnership Memorandum on Baikalsk Development
VEB.RF and En+ Group have entered into a memorandum of strategic partnership to promote socio-economic development in the town of Baikalsk, including the former production site of Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill.
The document was signed on behalf of VEB.RF by its Senior Vice-President Anton Grigorov and on behalf of En+ Group by its Director for Sustainable Development Anton Butmanov.
Specifically, the memorandum outlines plans to implement a large-scale joint project to build the International Centre for Water Resources using the Baikalsk mill’s facilities. The project aims to create a multifunctional cluster of industrial, research, tourism and educational facilities.
The centre will promote socio-economic development in Baikalsk, with the project creating new job opportunities, introducing modern technology and consequently increasing budget revenues. VEB.RF and En+ Group agreed to join forces with regional and local authorities in this area.
The International Centre for Water Resources is to be built under the Baikalsk comprehensive development strategy that is currently formulated as a strategic master plan by VEB.RF’s subsidiary Baikal Region Development Center (BAIKAL.CENTER).
This will enable En+ Group to be effectively involved in preparing and carrying out the Baikalsk master plan, especially as related to the most important issues of local socio-economic development.
The memorandum also contains several important arrangements that lift the remaining restrictions and allow the infrastructure of the now-defunct mill to be used for the development of Baikalsk on a full scale. For instance, VEB.RF reaffirmed its intention to acquire the assets of Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill as a single lot.
Anton Grigorov, Senior Vice-President, VEB.RF:
“The memorandum is a typical example of how VEB.RF has always worked to provide a comprehensive development strategy for Baikalsk and the defunct Baikalsk mill, firmly committed to transparency, stakeholder engagement and respect for stakeholders. En+ Group is definitely the largest industry player in the region and has done a lot for Baikalsk. In this connection, combining forces with each other and working together as agreed in the memorandum, En+ Group and VEB.RF will be able to implement the most important projects to encourage socio-economic development in the Baikal region in the next several decades.”
Mikhail Khardikov, Head of Energy Business, En+ Group:
“En+ supports the government’s efforts to protect the environment and promote socio-economic development in the municipality of Baikalsk and the Baikal region. The company finds its involvement in such a large investment project to be very important to conserve and protect the natural environment. We hope its successful implementation will make the region attractive to tourists, researchers and active young people and will also encourage job creation and the development of the region as a whole.”
Igor Shuvalov Put in Charge of Skolkovo Foundation’s Board of Directors
The Board of Directors of the Skolkovo Foundation resolved on 29 December 2020 to elect VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov as its chairman.
Changes were made to the Skolkovo Foundation’s management due to the Skolkovo Foundation coming under the control of VEB.RF as part of the Russian Government’s reform of the system of development institutions.
A centralised investment unit is to be set up under the umbrella of VEB.RF to implement projects contributing towards the national development goals. The VEB.RF Group’s priorities now include consolidating public and private investment resources to achieve a breakthrough in the country’s development, improve quality of life and ensure adequate living conditions for people.