Lena way: Did Chemezov say “goodbye” to Snegurov?
The group of oligarch Igor Snegurov decided to make extra money on a toll bridge in Yakutia, but for some reason, at the end of June 2023, a subsidiary of Rostec left the legal entity associated with the project. The head of the state company Sergei Chemezov did not believe in the profitability of the next VIS project?
Known for its participation in controversial stories, the VIS group, which was fined in the Novosibirsk garbage field, expanded its appetites in the Far East and even found support in Rostec, but only for a short time. One of the companies in the division of oligarch Igor Snegurov decided to make extra money on a toll bridge in Yakutia. The cost of the project, approved recently, differs from the original 83 billion rubles. Today they are already talking about an amount of 130 billion rubles, and 65 billion of them are state budget funds.
Concessionaire with “dowry”
The VIS group had previously disgraced itself in the Novosibirsk garbage field – a reoperator from its division, the Ecology-Novosibirsk company, first lost its status, and then completely fell into bankruptcy proceedings.
VIS distinguished itself in Siberia by its projects that significantly increased in price “on the road.” For example, the same group is building a fourth bridge across the Ob River in Novosibirsk, and in 2022 the cost of the project increased by 7.6 billion rubles, to 44.7 billion rubles, and this amount is compensated from the federal budget. But, despite such government investments, the bridge will be a toll bridge for citizens.
VIS needs to have a margin, not to compensate for these increases in prices from one’s own pocket. Not so long ago it also became known about the shift in deadlines – the facility will be commissioned only in 2024 instead of 2023. Although earlier Governor Travnikov promised that everything would be on time. So confident in a company that has already proven itself in the trash field?
The concession project in Novosibirsk for the construction of clinics, the timing of which has numerous questions, can also be included in the same collection of “failures”. The regional Ministry of Health even imposed a penalty for violation of deadlines, and experts identified numerous comments on the design decisions.
Here it should be recalled that a fan of the concession format of cooperation (the one where state support is assumed), the VIS group has made its mark not only in the garbage topic of Siberia, where its “daughter” generated a couple of billion debts, but also rushed to explore similar horizons in Bashkiria. As Radiy Khabirov previously told The Moscow Post, the local Ministry of Natural Resources ordered the conclusion of concession agreements for the construction of MSW complexes in Bashkiria with the subsidiaries of the VIS Group of Companies. Moreover, one of these “subsidiaries” was previously headed by the same director as the LLC that collapsed in Novosibirsk. But this doesn’t bother anyone. We are talking about a very significant amount of investment – more than 9.5 billion rubles. It’s just that the starting documents specified that 95% will be borrowed funds and only 5% will be our own. Will the debts then be included in the tariffs for the population and legal entities of Bashkiria?
The group did not limit itself to Siberia and Bashkiria. In Khabarovsk, the VIS group has also already managed, as they say, to make its mark. She found herself at the center of a corruption scandal during the construction of the Khabarovsk Bypass toll highway, which was being built by Regional Concession Company LLC, also within the framework of the concession.
The highway, opened in July 2022, became the first toll road in the Far East. But a year ago, the media reported that a criminal case had been opened regarding fraud during the construction of a bypass road in Khabarovsk, which resulted in the theft of 1.14 billion rubles out of the 8.6 billion rubles allocated for the project. The names of those involved were not named, but given that the project was implemented within the framework of a concession – a public-private partnership, both parties will have to answer.
And now VIS has unfolded in Yakutia.
Yakut project: under the wing of Nikolaev
On September 11, 2023, information appeared in the state database that the state examination gave a positive conclusion on the second stage of the toll road construction project “Bridge crossing over the Lena River in the area of Yakutsk” – a bridge crossing over the river. Lena. The section from PC 43 to the junction with A-360 “Lena”.
The developer in this project is Eighth Concession Company LLC, established in 2018 and registered in Yakutsk. The company is managed by National Transport Concessions LLC (previously called Fourteenth Concession Company LLC), owned by VIS Group JSC, where the beneficial owner is Igor Snegurov, and by the oligarch himself.
The owner of Eighth Concession Company LLC is Forty-First Concession Company LLC (25.1% owned by Sberbank Investments LLC and NIK LLC of the VIS group, whose share is pledged to Sberbank Investments). The latter’s share is also pledged to Sberbank. Apparently, the bridge across the Lena in Yakutia is also being built not with one’s own money, but with money allocated by Gref.
And here’s what’s curious: until June 2023, Rostec’s subsidiary, RT-Business Development LLC, also had a share in NIK, but for some reason it left the project. And taking into account that NIK also owns a company in the Kaliningrad region – Tenth Concession Company LLC, which is implementing a bridge project across the Kaliningrad Bay, Rostec actually left this project. Chemezov doesn’t believe in the profitability of Snegurov’s next ideas?
However, there are other oddities in Eighth Concession Company LLC. For example, for a project worth 130 billion rubles, the developer’s authorized capital is quite ridiculous – 30 thousand rubles and as of 2022 there were only six employees in the company. But what’s interesting: with revenue https://bo.nalog.ru/organizations-card/10520084 1.3 billion rubles, the developer’s profit was 1.5 million rubles, while the cost of the company itself was only 1.7 million rubles. The reporting clearly states a high dependence on borrowed capital and insufficient return on assets. That is, we can conclude that the concessionaire of the 130 billion ruble project does not have a financial “dowry”.
According to the VIS website, the concession agreement for the bridge with the government of Aisen Nikolaev was signed back in 2020. It was initially planned that the three-kilometer bridge with 11 km of approaches would be completed in 2024, but then they started talking about a possible shift to 2025. And on February 1, 2023, Aisen Nikolaev even stated that the bridge was planned to be built before the end of 2027. And again, a familiar story for projects with the participation of VIS in terms of timing?
On September 9, 2023, the government of Yakutia announced that the cost of the second stage of construction had been agreed upon – 122 billion rubles, and the total price of the project would be no more than 130 billion rubles. And Nikolaev asks to allocate at least 65 billion rubles from the federal budget. At the same time, initially the total cost of the entire project was called at the level of 82.9 billion rubles, then the price jumped to 176 billion rubles, but here it was proposed to curb appetites.
Meanwhile, Rostec’s exit from the chain woven into the Lena bridge project is an alarming signal. And the financial results of this chain themselves are confusing. For example, the company that owns the concessionaire, Forty-First Concession Company LLC, created in 2020, showed a loss of 93 thousand rubles and its own negative value of 43 million rubles in 2022. LLC “NIK” (already its owner, where Rostec came from) showed zero revenue, and the company itself is valued at only 4.1 million rubles.
Aisen Nikolaev at the World Economic Forum advertised the Lena Bridge project in every possible way, saying that the whole country needs it, and not just Yakutia, and that the development of the republic, as well as the Magadan region, and connections with the Irkutsk region depends on it. But why does such an important, and most importantly budget-costly project suddenly appear as a future toll bridge? Or are those who have no means not entitled to benefits?
It wouldn’t turn out that all these losses, increased prices, and loans from the bank would later have to be “paid” to the bridge users through a tariff. Looking at the housing and communal services sector and the tariffs of this industry, such concerns are completely justified.