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"We need locomotive investors here"

Alexey Chekunkov on the big and small in attracting investments to the east of Russia

In the development of the Far East, a stage comes when Russian investments into big business projects alone are not enough. How to solve the problems of financial support for not just large-scale construction projects, but also small stories unfolding on the Far Eastern hectare and in small business, why to introduce electronic platforms and whether Asian tycoons are ready to create investment platforms for Russia, says EastRussia CEO of the Fund for the Development of the Far East And the Baikal region "Alexey Chekunkov.

"We need locomotive investors here"
Photo: Tass / VEF Photobank
"We are gradually expanding our mandates"

- The main news of this spring, connected with the fund is the connection to the program of crediting of the recipients of the "Far Eastern hectare". Why the FRDF, whose task is to attract large investments, participate in mass loan products?
- You know, we have instruments that we can use to make good deeds in the Far East, after all, three. The first one is cheap money, which we can invest for 5% and for a long time. The second is the very fact of our participation in the development system of the region, it allows you to help projects administratively. And the third is our intellectual and organizational resource. We started with the role of a mono-liner, which builds the infrastructure. Remember the Russian-Chinese bridge in the Jewish Autonomy, which, from a "recumbent" project, the shame of the country, has turned into a very energetic construction, where hundreds of people work and has already invested 5 billion rubles in investments. And we continue to solve the basic infrastructure tasks: we finance the construction of housing and roads to the fields. But there is an understanding that to participate only in large infrastructure projects requires an order of magnitude more capital.

- And the fund goes to other areas?
- I will say this: we are expanding the range of application of our leverage. The first such experience, incidentally, was participation in the program for the development of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), where we subsidize the rate - we mix the fund with the money of banks. Everything started with Sberbank, and now VTB, Gazprombank, Promsvyazbank, Otkrytie, Rosbank, Societe Generale and Yakutian Almazergenbank are also in the program. The bank gives its ruble to the ruble of the FRDF, in terms of its funding cost. But thanks to the fact that our part of the money costs the bank at 5% per annum, the average rate for loans granted, we have calculated this for the first 170 cases - only 11%.

- Compared with the average market conditions - much better?
- We interviewed entrepreneurs participating in the program. They all, as a rule, have the opportunity to get a normal loan. But - under 16-17% per annum. Taking into account the fact that the subsidized credit of the EDF is two to three times longer, the actual burden on business - the value of the funds that need to be paid to the bank at regular intervals - is reduced by three to four times. Of course, this is a serious help, and we have already given out 2 billion rubles. And the program to develop the "Far Eastern hectare" is further expansion of the Fund's mandates: through the partner banks we reach the level of individual borrowers. And interested: according to the survey of the Agency for the Development of Human Capital in the Far East, 47% of respondents believe that it is financial resources that are not enough to participate in the "Far Eastern hectare" program.

- Is the scheme the same as with SMEs?
- The program for the "hectare" will not mix the funds of the fund and the bank: the bank acts as an operator, as much as we allocate - as much it issues loans. And we will have two partners. For a retail product, for crediting individual applications in the amount of 3 to 600 thousand rubles - "Pochtabank". This is a purely retail bank, which, due to the large number of branches and partnerships with Russian Post, we hope, will act as a very effective partner. The applicant will be able to enter the electronic trading platform and select the goods necessary for the development of a "hectare" in the nearest store or with delivery in the Far East. Then the bank remotely approves the loan using the passport and SNILS and pays for the purchase. To lend to collective applications, in the range of 1-3 million rubles, we attract Svyazbank (part of the Vnesheconombank group - EastRussia). There we hope to satisfy the larger, semi-business situations of the SME segment, which Svyazbank better understands as a corporate bank.

"There are no parachutes - so we fly"

- Support for SMEs, "Far Eastern hectare" - but will there be enough funds for all this? After all, the last capitalization was a long time ago, and there are also investment projects.
- In total, the FRGF funds subsidies and accrued interest - 21 billion rubles. And the fund's assets - 36 billion rubles.

- Where is the difference?
- A part of the projects is financed in the interests of the development of the Sakhalin region - and these are the means of a regional development corporation. Throughout last year, we were a consultant to the corporation, and we will invest a certain amount of money with it, for example, in the creation of new ferries at the Amur shipbuilding plant to work on the Vanino-Kholmsk line. This is an example of a project in which several subjects of the Far East are interested.

- It turns out that regional development institutions help, report money and projects to the fund?
- Directly to our clients comes much more than from regions. The Sakhalin Region is resource-rich, in other regions it is more likely to be an investment attraction agency. We undoubtedly cooperate with all the active ones, both with Kamchatka and with the Primorsky Investment Agency. But in each area this work is built in different ways, and in the end the main attraction of investments is the governor. In this sense, under the leadership of Vice-Premier Yury Trutnev, the governors have already received "black belts" to attract investments.

- It turns out, the capitalization of the FRGF is still needed?
- The Fund is able to invest up to 20 billion rubles a year. The solution depends on the position of the Ministry of Finance. But she always, all these three years of our work on the new rules and in the new team, constructive. The Ministry of Finance has such a job: to create resistance to applicants for budgetary money - marginal, but not higher than it is necessary for the economy to still work. I call this "refueling in the air" - the military has such a thing. We fly, our goal is farther than our fuel tanks. The Ministry of Finance says: fly, do not worry. As soon as you have very little left - arrive, refuel. We do not have parachutes, so we fly.

"But is there any money?"
- For 2017 year - yes. At 2018-th - we need, otherwise we will have to suspend those same living programs that affect a very large number of people in the Far East, including SME support. I am sure that by the end of the year we will issue a thousand loans in this direction - by 10 billion rubles in total, and our funds there will be 5 billion rubles. And in the future, obviously, if "refueling in the air" does not happen, then it is possible to suspend, it is necessary to suspend. On the already started construction, of course, the funds are reserved, but we continue to recruit the portfolio - with the expectation of additional capitalization.

- However, you can not go far with budget funds. And then what?
- I think the next step in the development of the fund's activities will be more active creation of joint investment platforms with foreign investors, where we would invest a small part of the money, but attracted from 5 to 10 rubles for each ruble invested by the fund. This will no longer be preferential means, foreign investors have no goal to develop the Far East - there is a goal to invest at an acceptable level of risky returns. Funds of the RF budget, invested through the FRG, in this case will be a "bait."

- Do they "peck"?
- Active interest from several foreign direct investment funds: in the mining industry, in the construction infrastructure, in agriculture - these are foundations from Japan, Hong Kong, and China. This money, however, has one peculiarity: they are selective. Projects should bring a satisfying profitability at a certain level of risk, and for Russia it is estimated as rather high - based on the problem of sanctions.

- And what about interest, are there any tangible goals?
- The purpose of the fund for this year is to attract at least 50 billion rubles to the Far East through such platforms.

- Are the potential partners already identified?
"The first of these could be, for example, one of the richest families in Asia, owning assets of about $ 30 billion, including the Pan-Asian network of five-star Shangri-La hotels and Singapore's Wilmar International, the largest producer of palm oil. This is the Chinese-Malaysian Kuok Group. Two thematic funds are also with us: infrastructure and construction and investment in the mining industry with a focus on precious metals. Both directions are relevant for the Far East, for them the FRDF has a good portfolio, which we presented to Asian investors. With the Kuok Group, for example, we have already been in a dialogue for six months, they are selecting a pool of investors. I think we will launch these joint funds in the summer, we will sign legally significant agreements.

"" Voskhodu "needs a strategist and 1,5 billion in the system itself"

- The investment system "Voskhod" should also help to attract investors. It turns out?
- Two companies are already located at Voskhod: the Aviaterminal subsidiary of Khabarovsk Airport and Almazergienbank. The second is more significant, since the placement took place at 500 million rubles, and investors took securities with a yield of 12,5% per annum in the midst of the history of Tatfondbank, which is identical in structure to Almazergienbank. The next goal is, on the one hand, to continue working with the stream of potential issuers. The nearest placements will occur closer to the summer, the plan for this year is 3 billion rubles. At the same time, we are looking for a strategic investor in the system itself - to create a full-fledged pan-Asian infrastructure to serve the financing needs of medium-sized Far Eastern companies.

- How much should I invest and where to look for a partner - again in Asia?
- The ability to invest money is also a start-up, and in order for Voskhod to fully play, it is necessary to invest about 1,5 billion rubles into it. This money should give a major strategist - maybe, and Russian, we'll see. But in Asia, there are good precedents for the development of financial technologies: a new stock exchange in Myanmar, which, by the way, is being developed by the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and the Singapore Stock Exchange. And, of course, major Chinese players. They exist behind a kind of Great financial wall of China. But if even small experimental tunnels are made in this wall, a tremendous amount of funds may come. If a strategic investor is attracted, 3 billion rubles in the 2017 year, even with linear growth to 2025, can transform into a trillion rubles of accumulated investments - there is a demand.

- Another electronic innovation, designed to accumulate investments - a site for the allocation of sites for aquaculture. What for?
- Until now, the fish-breeding area was formed by an opaque procedure: if the Russian Fishery Agency felt that there was a need to form a site in an arbitrary form, they formed it. The investor was supposed to come to a live auction in Moscow. The pledge was rather low - a decent lot could be “pushed” into the auction and won for 500 thousand rubles. As a result, unfortunately, most of the water areas did not fall into economic circulation, and some - in the informal shadow. Hence the need for a single electronic trading platform.

- Technically, what would it look like?
- As they book movie tickets now: clicked on the site on four chairs, and there are 15 minutes to pay for them. Now work is underway to break up the entire Far East into areas in 100 ha. Some of them will be excluded from circulation for security reasons, and all others will go to the open system. In it, anyone who has an electronic digital signature can "click" to 10 sites. Rosrybolovstvo as a result is obliged to form the fish-breeding areas selected by the investor and conduct an auction electronically within two months. We offered a more serious pledge - 20 thousand rubles per hectare. Our investments in the system need to be recouped through commissions for organizing trades, the rights to use the plots belong to the state and will go to the treasury, to Rosrybolovstvo, as it is today. Simply the process will be more transparent and automatic.

“And when will he be like this?”
- The timing of the introduction of a system of extremely tonic - Yuri Trutnev set the task this year to sell rights to not less than 30% of available sites.

"It's important to show: we focus on leaders, and they all get it"

- Are there any new directions of work or at least ideas?
- There are a lot of ideas. We are asked to engage in, for example, a mortgage product. My personal opinion as an expert, the problem of affordable housing and sources of money for housing - one of the cornerstones in the east. To housing was cheap, it should be a lot. A lot of housing is expensive to build. And since it does not pay for itself, we build the whole world - as 5600 apartments for Rosneft in the Big Stone. 20% - our funds, 80% - AHML, the company itself invests 120 billion rubles in the project to create a shipbuilding cluster. And this is a very revealing example. Under a single investment project in a single city had to within a year, with instructions from the president and a great effort to collect a project for housing. Massively build up the Far East cheap housing will not turn out cheap.

- What is the way out?
- Departmental housing - on the scale of the investment changes that are coming, the notorious 3 trillion rubles of declared investments. Even if not all of them materialize, some part, they will first of all cause - and already cause - a wild shortage of personnel. Companies will inevitably attract personnel, which means they will build housing.

"But it's only local." And if we talk about large cities and about the fact that there are young people there - can you somehow subsidize the rate, for example?
"We can give cheap money, but then it's just our money, it's easier and more honest to build it ourselves." I have not seen a successful commercial project with housing for 17 years of work - except that New Moscow, but Moscow in general is a special territory. And to build a suburb of Vladivostok as a commercial project is unlikely. Magnets are needed here. Why do people generally go to the city, choose a place? They should like something. Maybe even one object - a sports center in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk or a water park in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

- Create points of attraction - and everything will gradually work?
- In general, it is important to bring strong players to the Far East. There is in English the word driver, in Russian we call it “locomotive”. Here are the locomotives - the most important thing. Why did I start talking about the Kuok Group, about this family? It's one thing if a Chinese state company announces that it will invest $ 1 billion in Russia. This is already a lot of people said - not everyone did, really. Another thing - the legendary family of magnates, which the Financial Times writes, which is called the second most influential Asian family in the world. And here she says: “Yes, the Far East - I wonder, we invested our money, took money from other investors, came here.” Millions are watching them, and their every success is a powerful signal. So, to say that we now as a Gosplan will spread everything in the Far East and develop it is not true. But to show that we are focusing on the leaders, we support them, and everything works out for them - after that the multiplier effect is turned on. And so - after each success.
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