02 September 2015

    The first East Russia Economic Forum (EREF), which is to be held this week, is opening the new business season. Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), told RG-B about the projects which are interesting for the companies from the Asia-Pacific region.

    – Are you going to take part in the Russian return visit to China? How do Chinese partners react to the current situation of the Russian economy?

    – RDIF has concluded an investment cooperation agreement with China’s Silk Road Fund. This is a very new structure, created a year ago to implement a large-scale infrastructure initiative that will facilitate the integration of Eurasian countries. Due to the interaction with the Silk Road Fund, which is also our partner in another important project — the infrastructure initiative of BRICS, we will be able to implement significant infrastructure projects. They will contribute to the strengthening of the economic cooperation, not only between our countries but also among the other countries in the region. Many of our international partners have already shown their interest in the initiative, for example, the investors from the Middle East.

    Despite the fact that attracting investment to Russia from the Western countries has become more complicated, our Chinese colleagues are open to cooperation and see a unique opportunity to invest and to acquire a share in the capital of promising Russian companies at very attractive terms. It concerns a wide range of industries, from the consumer sector and tourism to infrastructure and logistics.

    – Which are the most promising areas for investment?

    – There are a number of sectors and companies that continue to show significant growth in spite of everything. For example, ALROSA’s shares went up by about 80% since the IPO, in which we participated, inclusively in cooperation with Western funds. Many investment opportunities are related to buying assets that state monopolies dispose of due to their non-core nature, with subsequent upgrading of such assets in order to improve their efficiency.

    The Chinese partners are especially interested in projects in the Far East of the Russian Federation. Almost a half of the projects that are currently being considered by the intergovernmental Russian-Chinese commission on investment cooperation chaired by the deputy prime ministers of our countries are connected with this macroregion. The projects presented to the committee are worth about USD 100 bn. Other Asia-Pacific countries, e.g., Japan, Korea, and Thailand, are also showing interest in Russia’s Far East. Today, the amount of the RDIF investment in the region exceeds 40 billion roubles.

    – Are those mainly resource projects?

    – Many investors are certainly attracted by the resource base of the region. We believe that its comprehensive and sustainable development with a focus on high value-added activities and the establishment of related infrastructure can significantly improve the situation in the Russian Far East. This will improve the efficiency of the economy and create new jobs. But the scope of activity is not limited to resource sectors: the same principles apply to the agricultural sector and the tourism sector.

    RDIF is already active in the region, and for most of our projects, it is infrastructure, and in particular transport logistics, which is of paramount importance. Our Russia-China Investment Fund (RCIF, established by RDIF and China Investment Corporation. — Editor’s note), together with the Far East Development Fund is engaged in the construction of the first railway bridge across the Amur River at the Russian-Chinese border. Right now a tender is being held for the selection of a general contractor for the construction of the Russian part of the bridge.

    Another interesting project is the investment in the Vladivostok International Airport in cooperation with Changi, a Singapore company, the operator of one of the largest airports in the world. This is a strategic investor, which is needed for the development of the airport. It can potentially become the key Russian hub in the transport and logistics network of the Asian-Pacific Region. The population of the area which is an hour or two flight from Vladivostok is over 400 million people. The presence of such transportation hubs in the region will promote economic development at all levels. Therefore, we are now finalizing the details and we hope to close the deal before the end of the year in order to start the implementing our strategy for the airport development.

    – What do you expect from the Forum?

    – EREF is a promising platform for dialogue between the businesses and the government, which I am sure will provide the necessary point of growth for the Russian Far East region. We invited many our partners from Asian-Pacific Region to EREF. I think that we will announce several new projects with our Asian partners and will update the status of the key projects of the fund in the region, and we will hold a series of meetings with our key partners.