The source of the Ministry of Industry and Trade is trying to return part of the money given to Crocus Nanoelectronics LLC on the eve of the personnel reshuffle. First, the department allocated 1.24 billion rubles for the controversial project, now it is trying to return at least part of this subsidy. But, apparently, all the financial holes left after Chubais will continue to let in only drafts. The prospects for the “recovery” of KNE, where 4 general directors have been replaced in 8 years, look vague today. To pay off debts, the company may try to sell the equipment.
The Ministry of Industry filed a lawsuit against Crocus Nanoelectronics (KNE) for the return of 458 million rubles. This is part of a loan of 1.24 billion rubles received 6 years ago. The agency believes that the KNE has not reached the targets for this subsidy, and therefore is obliged to pay the amount specified in the claim. Consideration of the claim in the Moscow Arbitration Court is scheduled for February 8, 2023.
Almost half a billion rubles that the state is trying to return from Crocus is a tiny fraction of the hundreds of billions allocated to Rosnano and digested with appetite by Anatoly Chubais and his managers.
Crocus Nanoelectronics was created in 2011. At first it was a joint venture, the capital of which included Rosnano and the French startup company Crocus Technology. In 2016, Rosnano received FAS approval for the purchase of the entire share of the French and within three years established full control over KNE. Just in 2016, the company received a large government subsidy. The contract on it ended on December 31, 2021.
At the time of receiving the subsidy, Crocus Nanoelectronics LLC was headed by Oleg Syutin. According to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, after leaving the “daughter” of “Rosnano” in April 2018, he did not manage any enterprises. Since October 2015, Syutin has been one of the founders of Sintakor LLC registered in St. Petersburg (development of computer software). From January 2021 to November 2022, Oleg Syutin was among the founders of the Moscow Yadro Microprocessors LLC (production of electronic equipment elements). At the moment, there is no information about the owners of this company in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities.
Since 2016, four general directors have changed at Crocus Nanoelectronics LLC. In April 2018, Oleg Syutin was replaced by Mikhail Sprikut, and in April 2019 Andrey Kushnarev took over the company. Since July 25, 2022, Alexander Yakovlev has been holding the position of CEO.
Rosnano considered KNE as a large project for the production of MRAM – a magnetoresistive memory that combines energy independence, high speed and an unlimited number of rewriting cycles. It was considered a new generation of memory and could be used in smart cards, network switches, biometric identification devices, communication devices with a short range. Microcircuits could save information when the power was turned off. Chubais Corporation invested about 100 million euros in the joint venture, and the total investment amounted to 200 million euros.
In November 2013, in Moscow, on the territory of the former AZLK, the first stage of the plant was opened with pomp. Anatoly Chubais then stated: “As you know, all existing electronics are based on electromagnetic chips. And scientists have long been struggling with the use of a magnetic chip. And this is the world's first launch of an industrial enterprise that will produce an element base based on magnetic technology. This is a new platform for modern microelectronics. This technology can be used in phones, credit cards.” Rosnano predicted that the volume of the market for Crocus Nanoelectronics products in 2014 would exceed $8 billion.
The Harsh Reality
KNE suffered the fate of most of the projects of “Rosnano”. Firstly, later it became clear that it was more correct to create a full-cycle production. However, this required additional funds, so we decided to purchase plates abroad and apply high-tech layers on them at the Moscow plant. Secondly, in 2014, the American company Applied Materials refused to supply equipment for the plant to Russia, which was classified as a dual-use technology. It fell under the anti-Russian sanctions introduced in the same year. As a result, Rosnano found an alternative in the Chinese market, but there was no radical change in the situation.
The project, which is called “did not go.” The country did not learn about any billion dollar turnover. Yes, the plant became the only one in Russia that produced a new generation of non-volatile memory. But its financial solvency and future is a big question. In 2021, the revenue of Crocus Nanoelectronics LLC amounted to a miserable 52.7 million rubles. with a loss of 1.8 billion rubles.
A claim for half a billion, filed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, can lead to the closure of the company. The situation can be saved by the sale of equipment and the payment of the debt on the lawsuit.