As it became known to Kommersant, the discussion on the transfer of the State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK) from the Ministry of Transport to the Ministry of Industry and Trade has resumed. With such an initiative, the head of Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, turned to the President of the Russian Federation. He also opposed the proposed merger of STLC and VEB-Leasing, which, in his opinion, threatens to extend US sanctions to STLC. Sources of Kommersant in the market and experts consider the option of transferring STLC to the Ministry of Industry and Trade as “logical”, given the actual role of the ministry in providing the company with capital and contracts.
As it became known to Kommersant, the head of Rostec Sergei Chemezov proposed to President Vladimir Putin to transfer the State Transport Leasing Company from the Ministry of Transport to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The corresponding letter was sent at the end of May (“Kommersant” has a copy). Mr. Chemezov also proposed to include representatives of Rostec in the board of directors of STLC. Vladimir Putin, having signed the document for Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, gave the following resolution: “The issues of sectoral interests are obvious, nevertheless I ask you to support.” On June 1, Mikhail Mishustin instructed First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov and Head of the Ministry of Transport Vitaly Savelyev to “report” their position on this issue.
In his letter to the President, Sergei Chemezov recalls that STLC is “a backbone organization of the Russian economy with a leasing portfolio of over RUB 1.3 trillion, as well as a leader in placing orders for the purchase of domestically produced equipment in transport engineering.” So far, the sole shareholder of the company remains the Russian Federation represented by the Ministry of Transport. Now it is planned to merge STLC with VEB-Leasing – as a result, VEB.RF, which is under US sanctions, will become a shareholder of STLC. Such a scheme, says Sergei Chemezov, “carries significant risks of inclusion of STLC in the sanctions lists and deprivation of the opportunity to raise money on international markets.” He adds that a significant share of the state support allocated by STLC was provided through the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the leasing programs of STLC provide a significant part of the demand for the products of Rostec enterprises – UAC, KamAZ, Russian Helicopters, Uralvagonzavod.
Rostec did not add anything to the letter. The Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and VEB.RF did not comment on the topic. The State Transport Leasing Company told Kommersant that they are ready to fulfill any instructions from the government: “As a joint-stock company, we welcome decisions that do not lead to risks of reducing investments in the transport industry and transport engineering in the Russian Federation.”
The idea of transferring STLC from the Ministry of Transport to the Ministry of Industry and Trade has been discussed in the industry for several years. The last time this option was considered in 2020 (see Kommersant on November 13, 2020). However, at a briefing with reporters in April 2021, the head of the State Transport Leasing Company, Yevgeny Dietrich, denied this possibility.
Kommersant’s interlocutors, familiar with the situation, were initially skeptical about the option of merging STLC with VEB-Leasing, pointing out the risk of sanctions. They remind that in April the Chinese bank ICBC had already refused STLC a loan for foreign contracts. In addition, the sanctions may mean for STLC the need to extinguish all its financial obligations in the amount of more than 1 trillion rubles, which threatens the company with default.
The head of Infoline-Analytics, Mikhail Burmistrov, believes that the transfer of STLC to the Ministry of Industry and Trade looks logical: it was to support the transport engineering industry that the last injections into STLC from the budget were made. In addition, the development of leasing programs is necessary for the growth of sales of Russian engineering products abroad. The Ministry of Industry and Trade, according to the expert, will be able to build a more effective coordination of STLC with key supervised enterprises both when working in the domestic market, including within the framework of import substitution, and when supplying for export.