VEB.RF, Sber, and Google Cooperate to Develop SMEs

4 june 2021 года

At the SPIEF-2021, VEB.RF, Sber, and Google entered into a strategic cooperation agreement.

The document was signed on behalf of VEB.RF by its Chairman Igor Shuvalov, on behalf of Sberbank by its Chairman German Gref, and on behalf of Google by Managing Director of Google Russia Yulia Solovyova. The parties agreed to cooperate in the following areas of business:

  • joint projects with small and medium-sized enterprises (including self-employed persons);
  • joint seminars, lectures, and case studies;
  • sharing experience in the introduction of innovative information technologies in the activities of small and medium-sized enterprises (including self-employed persons).

“BusinessClass project proved to be successful and relevant for Russian entrepreneurs. Accession of the VEB.RF Group to the partnership between Sber and Google will make it possible for small and medium-sized enterprises to use BusinessClass programme and Razvivay.rf platform for new learning and development opportunities. Today, digitalisation is crucial for successful business as well as continuous learning and skills development.”

Igor Shuvalov, Chairman, VEB.RF:

“This year marks the fifth anniversary of our free joint on-line programme BusinessClass for SMEs. The programme counts around one million participants. Since the launch of the programme, they have created more than 14,000 new businesses in various Russian regions, 58,000 jobs, and generated 45 billion roubles in additional tax revenues for budgets at all levels.

We believe that it is a good practice and are ready to share our experience in interdisciplinary learning, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and new educational technologies with our partners.”

German Gref, CEO and Chairman of Sberbank

“Google highly values its long-term partnership relations with Sber, VEB.RF and Razvivay.rf. The memorandum is a milestone which strengthens the relations and significantly improves financial literacy and Russia’s business environment.”

Yulia Solovyova, Managing Director of Google Russia:

The memorandum already outlines plans to implement several projects. The first one is an on-line training course “Smart Finance. Hands-on Accounting, Taxes and Law for Entrepreneurs”. The course is available at Google and Sber’s educational website BusinessClass with the support of Razvivay.rf, a young and emerging aggregator of business products.

The course comprises 13 classes on specific topics. After each class, students get examples and advice from successful entrepreneurs, lawyers, and accountants. Namely, Efim Kolodkin, CEO of event venues rental service Bash Today, Guzel Gibadullina, Managing Partner and CFO of Gibadullin and Partners, consulting and audit firm.

Experts tell the students how to raise funds to launch their businesses, to choose an efficient pricing model, to optimise taxes, to break-even, and to achieve timely return on investment.

Every graduate will learn to build unique financial models to objectively assess the rate of return and financing required.


VEB.RF, Tourism.RF, Interros and Vasta Discovery Agree to Cooperate in Creating New Mountain Resort in Sochi

4 june 2021 года

During the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, VEB.RF, Tourism.RF Corporation, Interros and Vasta Discovery agreed to cooperate in carrying out the project to create Dolina Vasta, an all-season mountain resort in Sochi.

The agreement was signed by Head of VEB.RF Real Property Projects and Asset Management and Member of the Board Alexander Tarabrin, CEO of Tourism.RF Sergei Sukhanov, CEO of Interros Sergey Batekhin, and CEO of Vasta Discovery Sergey Bachin. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko and VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov.

The agreement has initiated a new important stage of the project implementation. Project investors will approve technical and economic feasibility to encourage investment in the utility and transport infrastructure. A special purpose entity will be created to design and build the resort.

The agreement is aimed at developing post-Olympic Sochi and regional tourism and building the necessary infrastructure to increase the domestic and inbound tourist flow. Ultimately, this work will contribute to the socio-economic development of the Krasnodar Territory and the city of Sochi as a mountain resort as part of the Tourism and Hospitality national project.

It is intended that the Dolina Vasta project in Sochi will build the necessary tourist infrastructure for health and ski recreation in the next four years (2021–2025). A comfortable environment will be created in Sochi National Park for year-round recreational activities, with balneotherapy and ski centres. The balneotherapy centre will include a sanatorium, guest houses and spa hotels, and a hydropathic facility with mineral water pump-rooms. The skiing facilities will consist of 80 kilometres of slopes and several ski lifts with a total length of 13 kilometres.

The total project value including the utility and transport infrastructure is estimated at approximately RUB80bn.

The new high-class resort, such as Dolina Vasta, in the mountain cluster of Sochi will create 2,500 jobs (or, including related services, as many as 5,000), stimulate small and medium-sized enterprises, and contribute to the socio-economic and cultural development of the region. The resort will pay billions of roubles in taxes at various levels in the future. The tourist flow is estimated at 1,500,000 guests per year.

Tourism.RF will act as a co-investor and will arrange government support for the Dolina Vasta project in creating the utility and transport infrastructure as part of the Tourism and Hospitality national project jointly with the Russian Ministry of Construction as the responsible supervisor.

Pursuant to the agreement, VEB.RF is considering its participation in organising and conducting due diligence for the Dolina Vasta project, providing investment and financial advice during its implementation, and arranging a syndicated loan for the project (under the Project Financing Factory programme).

Interros acts as an investor to arrange financing for the project. The master plan for the Dolina Vasta project is being developed by Dolina Vasta, which is responsible for preparing design and estimate documents, obtaining ownership, operating the project’s facilities, as well as acting as a co-investor and raising funds.

Alexander Tarabrin, Head of Real Property Projects and Asset Management and Member of the Board, VEB.RF:

“Domestic tourism is an industry that can make a significant contribution to post-pandemic economic recovery. Its development produces numerous urban effects: creating new infrastructure, a comfortable living environment, new centres of attraction and, of course, opportunities for starting new businesses. That is why VEB.RF views the tourism and hospitality industries as one of the most promising areas of investment.”

Sergei Sukhanov, CEO, Tourism.RF Corporation:

“Our task is to make investments in tourism attractive and beneficial for businesses. The Corporation has developed support measures to reduce debt loads for investors. We are currently discussing the details of the Dolina Vasta project and planning to make an authorised capital contribution. Our first step will be developing a master plan of the resort territory together with the investor. This will allow us to determine the exact finance required. The Corporation will also facilitate inter-agency coordination to create the utility and auxiliary infrastructure.

Sergey Batekhin, CEO, Interros:

“This agreement is an important step towards implementing the Dolina Vasta project. The new year-round resort will make recreation more accessible to Russians, meet the growing demand and have a positive impact on the region. As the project’s investor, Interros intends to use its experience of creating the Rosa Khutor resort and will ensure that Dolina Vasta construction will meet highest engineering and environmental standards.”

Sergey Bachin, CEO, Vasta Discovery:

“We are ambitious to create a world-class resort. The Dolina Vasta resort will become part of the post-Olympic development of Rosa Khutor and will perfectly complement the existing infrastructure of the Sochi mountain cluster. This will substantially expand the tourism opportunities of the Krasnodar Territory as one of the most attractive places for recreation in this country. I would like to note that respect for the region’s unique natural environment has always been high on our list of priorities.”


VEB.RF to Develop Post-Olympic Sochi

4 june 2021 года

During the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, VEB.RF entered into several agreements to develop Olympic facilities in Sochi as part of the Tourism and Hospitality national project. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko, VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov and the shareholder of the Krasnaya Polyana Resort Aleksander Tkachev.

Among the agreements is the agreement with Kurort Plus and Yug-Businesspartner specifying key principles of interaction and the procedure for carrying out projects for the development of Krasnaya Polyana resort, for integrated development of Sochi-Park, and for the construction of a five-star hotel complex with apartments and Sochi-Park Hotel Aqua.

The agreement is aimed at contributing towards the sustainable development of domestic and inbound tourism, creation and development of tourist clusters that facilitate the development of domestic and inbound tourism, increase of the domestic tourist flow, and social and economic development of the Krasnodar Territory and the city of Sochi as a mountain resort. The projects will be implemented as part of the Tourism and Hospitality national project and Economic Development and Innovative Economy government programme.

Another agreement was entered into with Sindika-O, OlympPlus and Mostovik Development to build an apart-hotel and a healthcare centre on the territory of Radisson Collection Paradise Resort and Spa, a swimming pool at Bridge Resort, and Mys Adler Sports Park. The Sports Park project is designed to support the Talent and Success Foundation (Sirius Educational Centre).

“VEB.RF’s major mission is supporting the achievement of national goals aimed at improving the quality of life of our citizens. Developing post-Olympic Sochi contributes towards implementing these goals, attracting investment in the region, creating new jobs and developing domestic tourism, which can give a powerful impetus towards Russia’s economic development, especially in the post-pandemic period,” said Alexander Tarabrin, Head of VEB.RF Real Property Projects and Asset Management and Member of the Board.


Syndicate of VEB.RF and Partner Banks to Finance Udokan Second Phase

3 june 2021 года

VEB.RF, Gazprombank, Sberbank and Udokan Copper (part of the USM Group, the founder and principal shareholder - Alisher Usmanov) agreed to finance the second phase of the Udokan copper deposit development project.

The signing ceremony took place during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum at VEB.RF’s site in the presence of the Governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory Aleksander Osipov and VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov.

The project investments are preliminary estimated at USD4bn. The final amount of investment will be determined during the project due diligence. The project will receive financing under the Project Financing Factory programme, with VEB.RF acting as the Factory’s operator.

The second phase of the Udokan copper deposit development stipulates processing about 24 million tonnes of ore per year in addition to 12 million tonnes to be processed in the first phase.

The 26 million tonnes copper deposit is the largest in Russia and ranks fourth in the world. The copper grade of the ore is 1.0% according to the JORC classification (the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves). The end product of the first phase is cathode copper and sulphide concentrate, the output is expected to be 125 thousand tonnes of copper per year.

After commissioning the first phase, the Udokan mining and smelting facility will create more than 2,000 new jobs aside from allied sectors, and generate over RUB750bn in additional tax revenues for budgets at all levels during the first 25 years of operation.

Nikolay Tsekhomsky, First Deputy Chairman and Member of the Board, VEB.RF:

“We are launching financing for the second phase of Udokan development. Together with the first phase of Udokan development, this project is one of the most capital-intensive projects co-financed by VEB.RF and the largest project implemented under the Project Financing Factory programme. The PFF mechanism allows us to attract large investments from commercial banks. The Factory also helps investors and creditors to minimise project risks. The Udokan second phase will have positive impact for developing the Trans-Baikal Territory. Specifically, project initiators are implementing the programme for integrated territorial development, which will improve quality of life not only of the Udokan Copper employees but also of the local residents.”

Valery Kazikaev, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Udokan Copper:

“Development of Udokan, a huge and unique deposit in terms of complex mineral composition of ore, could not be started over 70 years since its discovery. We offered a unique technological development scheme. Today, we are successfully building the Udokan facility in the zone of severe climate, perpetually frozen under-soil and complex mountainous relief. The project investment reached about USD1.8bn including USD1bn invested by shareholders. Our confidence in project success and the government’s support of investments in the Far East allowed us to launch the second phase of the Udokan project.”

Aleksey Belous, Deputy Chairman, Gazprombank:

“Gazprombank traditionally plays an important role in developing the production and processing of non-ferrous metals in Russia. We together with our partners are turning a new leaf in the history of such a large project, which is important for the Eastern Siberia and Far East. I am confident that the project development will strengthen our successful cooperation and bring added impetus to the development of the Trans-Baikal Territory. The Project Financing Factory mechanism created by VEB.RF has proven its efficiency, while the Udokan-1 project participants have demonstrated their high professionalism. This inspires us to launch the Udokan-2 project.”

Olga Kharlamova, Vice President and Director of Key Client Lending, Sberbank:

“The Udokan copper deposit development project is strategic for the development of the Russian mining industry. Sberbank considers the project initiator - USM Group - to be a reliable and responsible partner and is pleased to participate in financing such projects critical to the country’s economy. The Bank as a member of the syndicate has already co-financed the first phase of the project on the Project Financing Factory principles and is planning to co-finance the second phase. Such large-scale project will substantially strengthen the company’s positions in the Russian and global copper markets.”


Ufa East Exit Becomes Russia’s First IRIIS Certified Project

3 june 2021 года

The results of pilot testing the Impact and Responsible Investing for Infrastructure Sustainability (IRIIS) system were presented at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2021). The Ufa East Exit concession project implemented by the government of the Republic of Bashkortostan and the Bashkir Concession Company (part of the VTB Infrastructure Holding) was successfully assessed for compliance with the IRIIS principles having been assigned the ‘Golden’ achievement level. Respective certificates were officially handed over to the Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan Radiy Khabirov, VTB President and Chairman of the Management Board Andrey Kostin and General Director of the Bashkir Concession Company Asabali Zakavov.

The IRIIS system was developed by VEB.RF jointly with the PPP National Development Center and AECOM with support from the Russian Ministry of Finance to improve the quality and sustainability of infrastructure projects. The assessment methodology comprises three major aspects: Economy and Governance, Quality of Life, and Environment and Climate, each having certain criteria. The East Exit is Russia’s first IRIIS certified project.

After verification, the project got 1,879 marks or 62.6% of the highest possible value (3000 marks).  The highest marks were given on the Economy and Governance (76.7%) and Quality of Life (68.2%) aspects of the IRIIS methodology. The best results were demonstrated by the following criteria: the quality of project structuring, the minimum impact of construction on people, mobility and access, effective human resource management and internal communications.

Specifically, the project is subject to risk management regulations specifying the major stages and responsibility of participants. 1,500 people will be working at the site, with half of them being local residents. The share of local companies is 48.6%. Local companies provided materials and services for 5 billion roubles. The project provides for regular medical examinations and assessment of working conditions. Special conditions apply to conveyance of vehicles and people at the construction site including barrier-free environment.

In addition, the concessioner demonstrates rational use of natural resources: specific water consumption was reduced by 28.2% against the forecast volume. Wastes were reduced by 20% through their processing and reuse. There are no any designated forest or water fund lands, or any specially protected natural areas within the facility boundaries. Additionally, the company repairs environmental damages and engages in land reclamation and reproduction of aquatic biological resources. The facility’s commissioning will also have a positive impact on the environment. It is expected that pollutant emissions from vehicles will reduce by 35%, and greenhouse gas emissions - by 27%.

Radiy Khabirov, Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan:  

The East Exit project has proved its economic, environmental and social significance, thus increasing its implementation efficiency and attractiveness for domestic and foreign investors. Besides, the IRIIS certification proves that the project is interesting for federal investors. This will minimise risks for all participants. Ultimately, this joint systemic work will allow us to create in Ufa a quality road construction infrastructure complying with international standards and make the life of local residents comfortable and safe.

Andrey Kostin, President and Chairman of the Management Board, VTB Bank: 

“The East Exit co-financed by the VTB Group is a good example of successful implementation of major infrastructure projects in the regions. We, jointly with Bashkir government, tried to set high quality standards at the stage of project preparation and planning, which were confirmed by the IRIIS certification. I think that the introduced certification system will improve the quality of projects launched in Russia and contribute to spreading global best practices.”

Svetlana Yachevskaya, Deputy Chairperson and Member of the Board, VEB.RF:  

“When selecting pilot projects, we decided to include ‘our’ project where VEB.RF is a creditor or a direct participant. So we selected the Ufa East Exit project in which we are involved through the Project Financing Factory. The first IRIIS testing results demonstrate that the system is fully operational and it can show the project’s strengths and weaknesses and identify growth opportunities, and the IRIIS certificate assures the project quality. I’m confident that joint and well-coordinated work of the infrastructure market participants will allow us to extend the IRIIS certification system nationwide.”

Asabali Zakavov, CEO, Bashkir Concession Company: 

“The selection criteria for pilot projects were rather strict. In Autumn, with the assistance of VEB.RF, the Bashkir Concession Company being a concessioner for the East Exit devoted considerable effort to be included in the list of pilot projects. To become Russia’s first certified project is both a great challenge and enormous development opportunity. And, of course, it’s a unique experience offering additional advantages for the project team.”

Pavel Seleznev, CEO, National PPP Development Center: 

“The assessment process for the first pilot project was rather long and labour-intensive and that brought about the necessity of digitalisation. To speed up the certification process and make its mechanism friendlier for all participants of the infrastructure market, we are planning to launch a special online module in Autumn 2021 using ROSINFRA resources. The launched service is intended to be used for applying for project certification, tracking the major verification stages and communication with participants and verifiers.”

The project for construction of a new exit road from Ufa to the M-5 Ural Highway (the East Exit) is implemented under a concession agreement entered into in 2017 between the Bashkir Concession Company (the concessioner) and the Republic of Bashkortostan (the concedent). A total of RUB40bn will be invested in the project. VEB.RF and VTB will invest RUB11.6bn in the project under the Project Financing Factory programme. It is intended that the exit road will be commissioned in late 2023.

The shareholders of the Bashkir Concession Company include the VTB Infrastructure Holding and Limak Group (Turkish construction and investment holding). The VTB Group and VEB.RF are partially financing the construction. The general contractor is Limakmarashavtodorogi.


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