The government is discussing the liquidation of Rosnano
The government is discussing the dissolution of Rosnano. Three federal officials and an interlocutor close to the company told Vedomosti about this. According to them, the financial problems of the development institution worsened after the introduction of anti-Russian sanctions, in connection with which the state-owned company actually lost the ability to independently service its obligations.
As the federal official explained, the government questioned the advisability of supporting the state-owned company's viability at the expense of the budget in the current conditions - they suggested considering the termination of the company's activities. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov described such a vision of Rosnano's prospects in an address to Vladimir Putin, said the source familiar with the contents of the letter. The fact that the position of the Ministry of Finance was sent to the president is also known to another source close to the development institution.
According to them, the liquidation strategy under discussion provides for a more intensive sale of the state company's assets and the preservation of that part of Rosnano's portfolio companies that are significant for the country's technological development. According to the interlocutors, this property can be transferred to other specialized state corporations.
However, the bankruptcy of Rosnano is only one of the options, the federal official specified and confirmed the interlocutor close to the company. There is another way of development of events: the continuation of the policy of clearing the balance, but the preservation of the development institution as a center of competence for innovation, the interlocutors say. In the context of sanctions, in particular, restrictions on the supply of high-tech products, the experience gained at Rusnano can help in solving problems with import substitution. According to sources, no decision has yet been made on the future of the state-owned company. It will depend on the President's opinion, they stressed.
A representative of the Ministry of Finance told Vedomosti the following: “We are monitoring the financial condition of the state-owned company within the framework of the renewed board of directors. All obligations, including those covered by state guarantees, will be fulfilled in full. We continue to work to stabilize the current situation and ensure the sustainable financial condition of the society.” Representatives of the government apparatus, VEB (responsible for coordination, actually oversees systemically important development institutions) and the Ministry of Economics did not respond to Vedomosti's requests. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov also left questions unanswered.
On October 13, the obligations to Rosnano's creditors under the sixth series of bonds were fulfilled by the Ministry of Finance, Vedomosti wrote. The state guarantee extended to the papers, and it was this mechanism that was put into action, the sources specified. The holders were paid the nominal value of the bonds - 9 billion rubles, as well as income in the amount of 560 million rubles.
According to sources, the development institution did not have enough liquidity to fulfill all obligations and continue its activities in a normal mode, so it was decided to use the state guarantee and pay off obligations from the budget. This is the first case in the history of the company when payments were made on its debts from the resources of the treasury. The previous - the fifth - issue of bonds was redeemed in 2019, then the financial problems of Rosnano were not yet known.
Vedomosti turned to Rostec and Rosatom with questions about what assets of Rosnano are significant for the country's technological development, sources called these two state corporations candidates for portfolio companies.
The representative of Rostec noted that Rosnano operates in a different field - the company's projects are aimed at introducing new products and solutions for the market. “Nevertheless, we work in close contact, we have many points of contact, where we act together, complementing and reinforcing each other,” the source said.
A spokesman for Rosatom declined to comment.
The position of "Rosnano"
The approach to innovation as an investment that cannot but return with a profit contradicts the very essence of venture capital investment, a representative of Rosnano told Vedomosti. It was this policy that led to the construction of complex financing schemes, manipulations with reporting and refinancing under state guarantees only in order to delay as much as possible the recognition of earlier mistakes, and possibly the responsibility of specific officials.
The updated team of the company is successfully coping with the main task - exiting the historical portfolio and repaying the accumulated debt burden, the representative of Rosnano added. Receipts from the historical portfolio for 9 months of 2022 amounted to 14.5 billion rubles, total receipts for the period from 2021 - 52 billion rubles, or 55% of the value of the historical portfolio. Also, since December 2020, the new management has managed to reduce the debt by 33 billion rubles. Sale of assets remaining under management worth RUB 44 billion. planned until the end of 2024
Despite restrictions in financing investment projects from own funds, over 70 billion rubles have been attracted to portfolio companies since 2021.
For the next stage of the company's development, a change in the target specialization, the system of joint-stock management of activities and the capital structure is required, which will significantly reduce the cost of the federal budget to pay off the company's debt obligations and ensure industry promotion of the developed technologies, they believe in Rosnano.
In this regard, as a replacement for debt financing, the possibility of attracting private capital and reducing the share of state participation should be considered, the representative of the company suggested. Thus, Rusnano will be transformed into a predominantly private company, in which the state's share will not exceed 25% and will be provided with historical portfolio assets.
In order to ensure the technological orientation demanded by the domestic economy, it is proposed to consider attracting sustainable development institutions, promising customers and consumers of innovative products being created as representatives of the interests of the shareholder, the interlocutor added.
Development of the situation
Rosnano was founded in 2007 in response to the president's proposal to create a state company for the development of nanotechnologies. Until December 2020, Anatoly Chubais was the permanent head of the organization. Then in this post he was replaced by a native of the structures of "Rostec" Sergey Kulikov. As a source close to the company explained to Vedomosti, Kulikov's tasks included assessing the real state of the company and developing a strategy to bring society out of the crisis, which "was already obvious then." The option of liquidating the state-owned company was one of the possible, albeit undesirable, ways for the development of the situation already at that moment, the interlocutor specified.
The systemic problems of the state-owned company first came to the public plane at the end of autumn 2021. On November 19, the Moscow Exchange stopped trading in all Rusnano bond issues. This was done after the order of the Bank of Russia to the exchange, its representative explained, without specifying details. “The accumulated disproportionate debt and the current financial model of the company require adjustments,” the official statement from Rosnano said. A few days later, trading resumed, but the value of the bonds collapsed. The Ministry of Finance, however, announced on November 24 that the government would not allow a default on bonds with state guarantees, and quotes partially made up for the losses.
But certain questions about the model of financing development institutions that have developed in the country in relation to Rosnano arose earlier. For example, in 2016, the Accounts Chamber, based on an analysis of the activities of a state-owned company, came to the conclusion that the company entered into interested-party transactions and extinguished old debts by attracting new ones.
At the beginning of 2022, Kulikov turned to the Prosecutor General's Office with a request to check the activities of the state-owned company under the previous management, Vedomosti wrote in April. Independent auditors, including the Federal Treasury, discovered facts of overestimation of the real market value of the development institute's portfolio assets, as well as incorrect reporting, he said in a letter to Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov.
Starting from 2017, in agreement with the shareholder, the accounting policy of the company and, as a result, the financial statements were changed: the amount of liabilities was formally reduced by assigning a part of them to the “Additional capital” section of the balance sheet. Thus, expensive debt financing attracted since 2016 using incorrect financial statements amounted to 121 billion rubles, and the potential damage was about 28 billion rubles. in the form of accrued and paid interest on loans received, issued with obvious signs of Rosnano's inability to fulfill obligations in full, he wrote.
At the same time, Kulikov turned to Siluanov and Mishustin with a request to capitalize the company, Vedomosti wrote. The amount required by Rosnano was not named. In a letter to Krasnov, Kulikov indicated that the size of the external debt of the state-owned company at the end of 2020 approached 150 billion rubles. “The expensive debt financing attracted since 2016 using incorrect financial statements amounted to 121 billion rubles, and the potential damage was about 28 billion rubles. in the form of accrued and paid interest on loans received, issued with obvious signs of the inability of Rosnano JSC to fulfill its obligations in full, ”the appeal to the Prosecutor General emphasized.
According to the company, as of the current date, the debt is 116 billion rubles.
Time to rethink
Among the important projects of Rosnano, one can single out Liotech, a complex for the production of lithium-ion batteries, which will be in demand if the strategy of the Ministry of Industry for the development of electric vehicle production in the country is implemented, independent industrial expert Maxim Shaposhnikov believes. In addition, Crocus Nanoelectronics, an enterprise for the production of non-volatile memory, as well as a joint venture with TMK for the production of stainless pipes, is important, he added. Rusnano did not have fundamental knowledge and specialized scientific personnel - scientific expertise was carried out by external contractors, the expert believes. In this regard, the role of the company is quite within the power of state-owned commercial banks and VEB, Shaposhnikov believes.
The key issue in the situation with Rosnano is the rethinking of the concept of development institutions in principle, believes Natalia Orlova, chief economist at Alfa-Bank. The state-owned company was considered a pivotal development institution, where the situation, however, developed the way it did, the expert noted. Now the discussion should be about the extent to which, in general, development institutions have fulfilled their function of supporting economic growth through long-term projects, Orlova suggested. What is happening with Rosnano is a vivid example of a choice between public and private. Development institutions in Russia played an important role in a period when the state had a lot of resources, they were assigned the function of "accelerators" of economic growth, Orlova believes. Now the general context is changing, including in the budget policy, because there are more expenses, and the revenues of the state do not grow at such a rate as to provide for all needs. The financial situation is such that it encourages tougher decisions on the management of state-owned companies, she concluded.
It is not always advisable to demand “super-high efficiency” from a development institution in terms of financial indicators, Vladimir Klimanov, director of the Center for Regional Policy of the RANEPA, agreed. For this, such structures with a venture character are created - they can show high profits, or they can be in a pre-bankruptcy state - there is nothing extraordinary in this.
In any case, it is now necessary to revise the existing structures that receive funding from the budget, since both the external conditions and their specifics have changed, Klimanov is sure. Rosnano definitely requires a new look - its preservation in the previous status and format is impractical, but whether a new one is needed is a question, the economist doubts.
For example, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) used to operate, which allocated funds to scientific teams for advanced and fundamental research, Klimanov recalled. He received a second life, he was converted into the Russian Center for Scientific Information and focused on scientific expertise. The same can happen to Rosnano, which probably has its own unique competencies, Klimanov concluded.
Liquidation of the company is inexpedient for a number of reasons, a representative of one of the largest industrial holdings told Vedomosti. “Firstly, quite a lot of public funds were invested in it, which need to be returned,” he explained. The management of Rosnano will be able to accomplish this task with the correct reconfiguration of internal business processes and the improvement of the system of development institutions as a whole, he believes. Secondly, the assets of Rosnano are carriers of technologies that are critical for the country, and the company itself has the competence to develop them. As for financial problems, their main reason is the decision to choose a model for financing the company's projects with borrowed funds.
Rosnano is not the only development institution with a scandalous history. In 2020, a criminal case was initiated against the head of the Russian Venture Company (RVC), Alexander Povalko. The reason was the claims to the distribution of funding. RVC as a structure at the end of 2020 was attached to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) as part of the optimization of development institutions. The Accounts Chamber also criticized development institutions. As Izvestia reported with reference to the report of the joint venture on the activities of state-owned companies in 2020, a total of more than 2 trillion rubles have been allocated to 11 innovation development institutions, including Rosnano, RVC and the Far East Development Corporation, since their inception. ., but only a small part of them went directly to the development of innovations.
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