VEB.RF Calls on BRICS Banks to Follow ESG Agenda to Recover Economies
During the annual meeting of member banks of the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism (ICM), VEB.RF Deputy Chairman and Member of the Management Board Daniil Algulian said that VEB.RF was adjusting business conduct approaches and launching the ESG transformation in partnership with commercial banks. “The Federal Law on VEB.RF and our Memorandum on Financial Policies have been amended to reflect our new mission: integrating social entrepreneurship principles focused primarily on improving quality of life and well-being into business processes.” Daniil Algulian said.
He proposed to the BRICS partners to mutually recognise national green taxonomies, including the Russian Taxonomy issued by VEB.RF and the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, and to use them to lay down uniform principles for financing sustainable development projects.
According to Daniil Algulian, environmental issues have been used lately to pursue protectionist goals. “Together, we can confront the prospects of imposing some universal approaches to expedite the transformation to the low carbon economy,” Daniil Algulian added. He mentioned the agreement reached by Ministers of Finance of the BRICS countries in August to promote the concept of common but differentiated responsibilities that provides for that climate action plans should be devised with due consideration for national opportunities.
Daniil Algulian highlighted VEB.RF’s efforts in supporting the Russian economy during the pandemics and the post-pandemic recovery, VEB.RF’s transformation based on sustainability principles, and VEB.RF’s short-term strategy. As compared to financing provided in 2017-2020, VEB.RF aims to increase its support for projects 1.7 times to reach 17 trillion roubles (232 billion US dollars) in 2021-2024 together with all VEB.RF Group entities and partners. VEB.RF itself will invest directly 2.9 trillion roubles (39 billion US dollars).
Sustainability issues were also raised by VEB.RF Deputy Chairperson and Member of the Management Board Natalya Timakova at the meeting of the BRICS Financial Forum. She highlighted the role of the BRICS development banks in relaunching the investment cycle and restoring economic activity in the post-pandemic period. Specifically, she told the audience about Russian government programmes in areas such as supporting small- and medium businesses, developing the education and healthcare systems, and financing industrial, infrastructure and digitalisation projects.
Natalya Timakova noted that the recovery should be long-term and sustainable and suggested to focus on the ESG transformation agenda and to consider improving urban quality of life.
According to Natalya Timakova, the BRICS ICM could become a workshop for assembling new financial ideas and projects in areas that both encourage economic growth and help to achieve comprehensive social, environmental and governance outcomes.
VEB.RF representatives also called upon their ICM partners to continue joint work on formulating recommendations to implement the principles of responsible financing based on OECD’s experience and best practices and developing the BRICS infrastructural digital platform. (The Memorandum on the Principles of Responsible Financing was signed in November 2020).
Investment in University Campuses Construction Estimated at RUB500bn
- Regional teams have started developing campus models and architectural solutions;
- VEB.RF is the project operator;
- EEF-2021 witnessed the first public discussion of the project.
The Eastern Economic Forum included a panel session entitled University Campuses Network is Russia’s Intellectual Belt and focused on a project for creating a network of modern university campuses based on the mechanisms of public-private partnership and concessions. The event was the first public discussion of project specifics and effects after an ordinance governing its terms had been issued by the Government of the Russian Federation.
Russian Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov emphasised the utmost importance of the project for Russian regions and strategic development of universities, including in the context of 2030 Priority project, and specified the key particularities of the project: “Firstly, we work in close cooperation with regions. Campus projects are ambitious and should be treated by governors as intellectual and organisational challenges. Secondly, new infrastructure policies provide for multichannel financing and attracting private investment. Thirdly, we try to design campuses so that their maintenance and operation were both economically viable and feasible for universities. And, finally, campuses are dominant urban centres helping to breathe new life into our cities.”
The project provides for constructing interuniversity campuses providing for that campus infrastructure could be used by all regional universities and research centres. Establishing shared competency centres on campus sites will foster the exchange of new ideas and will give an added impetus to organising interdisciplinary teams and creating innovative products.
Creating an innovative educational environment (campuses) is a pioneering experiment in attracting private investment to develop and modernise the Russian higher education infrastructure. This requires that we should drastically change the organisational scheme of managing the university infrastructure. The PPP mechanism stipulates involving private business in campus facility management. This is a distinctly new approach not applied before in the Russian higher education system.
The key element of such approach is developing an efficient business model whose quality can be proved by successful project implementation. Developing a commercially successful business model is contingent on active communication among regional authorities, investors, universities, student and urban communities, and taking care of their interests and needs. Additionally, this imposes additional requirements for universities obliged to predict the demand for educational, scientific and housing infrastructure for the next 15-20 years, which is not a trivial task.
The regional teams have already started developing financial and economic models and architectural solutions for university campuses. Investors and banks are emphasising the particular importance of trust-based relationships between universities, investors and public authorities critical for the project implementation. In their turn, they are ready to take on investment risks inherent in campus projects.
Managing Director of VEB.RF’s Russian Government Agent Office Mikhail Alashkevich emphasised the campus role in preserving and augmenting the human capital: “To make the project viable, campuses should attract both foreign and non-resident students and a national talent pool. That is why we should focus not only on preserving the human capital, but also on attracting the best students, researchers and young scientists to the region. This will help to increase the region’s competitiveness, including through synergy generated from the cooperation of universities, research institutes, federal and regional authorities, and private business. VEB.RF is the project operator in its capacity as agent for the Government of the Russian Federation. It will help to structure campus projects based on the PPP and concession models. It is a large-scale project with a total value of 500 billion roubles earmarked for campus infrastructure.”
VEB.RF, VTB, ESN, Ministry for Development of Russian Far East, Marubeni Corporation and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines to Launch Methanol-Fuelled Vessel Project
VEB.RF, VTB, ESN, Ministry for Development of the Russian Far East, Marubeni Corporation and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines are developing a project for the construction of methanol-fuelled vessels by Russian shipbuilders. The use of methanol as marine fuel is a new global trend, with the potential volume of the new market estimated at tens of billions of US dollars. Russia has full potential to enter the new market and offer its advanced solutions.
The parties signed a memorandum of understanding during the Eastern Economic Forum. The ceremony was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The agreement was signed by Minister for Development of the Far East and Arctic Region Alexei Chekunkov, VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov, VTB Bank Deputy President and Chairman of the Management Board Anatoly Pechatnikov, CEO of ESN Group Grigory Berezkin, Executive Vice President and Member of the Board of Marubeni Corporation Akira Terakawa, and Chief Managing Executive Director and Director General of Energy and Offshore Business Unit of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Kenta Matsuzaka.
An international consortium comprising Russian banks, a methanol manufacturer (ESN Group) and major Japanese companies is analysing the proposed technological solutions, evaluating the financing needs and developing a road map to prepare the project launch under a tight deadline.
Among the next-generation environmentally friendly types of marine fuel (such as hydrogen, LNG or ammonia), methanol provides for much lower expenditures to create the bunkering infrastructure.
Russia is actively involved in developing the Northern Sea Route. The ESN Group’s terminal in Skovorodino that is geographically close to the Northern Sea Route could potentially become the principal provider of methanol for vessels sailing from Asia to Europe through the Arctic Ocean.
VEB.RF’s Chairman Igor Shuvalov:
“Russia is the leading producer of natural gas. VEB.RF as a development institution provides comprehensive support for domestic high value-added gas-to-chemicals production. Gas processing projects financed by VEB.RF will help to achieve a more than 1.5-fold increase in the methanol output by 2030. Russia has full potential to enter the new niche and become a leader in the global marine fuel market.
VTB Bank's Deputy President and Chairman of the Management Board Anatoly Pechatnikov:
“VTB is actively pursuing the ESG agenda. We are involved in various projects, from green mortgages to financing high-technology industries. Russian business is ready to participate in unique projects aimed to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Far East is rich in natural resources and has facilities for high value-added processing of gas, with a number of gas processing projects under consideration. This affords huge investment potential to introduce breakthrough technology. Creation of methanol fleet will help to attract highly skilled workers, create new jobs in the region and increase Russia’s export potential.”
CEO of ESN Group Grigory Berezkin:
“Environmental agenda has penetrated deep in our life, and it definitely affects major industrial projects. The major global vessel operators are planning to reject unsustainable oil fuel and use environmentally friendlier gas fuel. This provides us with new opportunities, and we are pleased that our long-term partnership with Marubeni Corporation in implementing a gas-to-chemicals project in the Amur Region will be further strengthened by joint elaboration of large-scale environmentally friendly business. Our consortium comprising the leading Russian banks, the Ministry for Development of the Russian Far East and our Japanese partners Marubeni Corporation and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is a unique team in terms of its competencies that undoubtedly could offer the most advanced solutions.”
VEB.RF to Finance Construction of Cross-Border Passenger Cableway between Russia and China
During the 2021 Eastern Economic Forum, VEB.RF (VEB.RF Group) and ZED Development (part of the Region Group of Companies) signed a cooperation agreement to implement a project for the construction of a cableway across the Amur River at the section of the Russian-Chinese border between Blagoveschensk (Russia) and Heihe (China).
The project involves constructing a cross-border passenger cableway with a passenger terminal and retail space. VEB.RF’s investments will total 2 billion roubles.
The agreement was signed by VEB.RF’s Deputy Chairman and Member of the Management Board Artem Dovlatov and Region Group’s Vice-President Valeria Repkova.
VEB.RF’s Deputy Chairman and Member of the Management Board Artem Dovlatov:
“VEB.RF is the first to include such an unusual transport infrastructure project on construction of a cableway in its portfolio. It will take only three minutes to get from Russia to China! The cableway is scheduled to begin operation in the first quarter of 2023. The total passenger traffic is projected to reach 1.1 million in the first year of operation. The project has received a positive opinion from the Russian Main Department of State Expertise, construction works are under way, and the relevant land lease contracts, general contractor contracts and equipment supply contracts have been concluded.”
“A high-technology international project implemented by our group of companies is the first of a kind, and it will definitely become a landmark of the Far East region. For the first time, the cableway will connect the two states and ensure more comfortable transportation between the two border towns. The project will encourage tourism and help to create new economic and social ties in the border region,” Project Supervisor and Region Group’s Vice-President Valeria Repkova said.
The Russian developer is ZED Development (part of the Region Group of Companies), the Chinese developer - Jinlungang Company (CRCC).
The project is being implemented on a parity basis under an intergovernmental agreement between Russia and China signed in September 2015.
VEB.RF to Finance Construction of New Passenger Terminal for International Airlines at Khabarovsk Airport
During the Eastern Economic Forum, VEB.RF signed a term sheet for financing a project to build a new terminal for international airlines at the Khabarovsk Airport.
The total project value is 4.8 billion roubles, with VEB.RF’s commitment standing at 3.1 billion roubles.
The new passenger terminal for international airlines will have annual passenger traffic of 1 million. The terminal will be equipped with two jet bridges, seven elevators for various purposes, six escalators, a two-level automated baggage handling system and 11 check-in desks.
The terminal is due to open in the first half of 2023. The five-storey terminal will be integrated with the current passenger terminal for domestic airlines at the Khabarovsk Airport.
VEB.RF’s Deputy Chairman Artem Dovlatov:
“Construction and modernisation of airport infrastructure is a key area for VEB.RF. Such projects enhance the regional investment attractiveness, attract new tourists and improve the transportation mobility of people. Previously, a new terminal for domestic airlines built with VEB.RF’s financial support was opened at the Khabarovsk Airport. The terminal can service as many as 3 million passengers per year in accordance with the latest standards. Now the airport can ensure high-quality of services for international airlines.”
Chairman of Khabarovsk Airport’s Board of Directors Konstantin Basyuk:
“The agreements are an important example of cooperation between business and VEB.RF as a key competence centre for implementation of investment projects in the Russian Far East. We had developed an optimal financing scheme together with VEB.RF’s experts, which allowed us to promptly launch the project. Officially, the construction phase was started yesterday, on the 1st of September.”
In total, VEB.RF has implemented eight projects for the construction and rehabilitation of airports for the total value of 227.2 billion roubles, with VEB.RF’s commitment of 87.4 billion roubles.