In May 2018, Vladimir Putin at the wheel of an orange Kamaz opened car traffic on the Crimean bridge. Having reached the Kerch Peninsula, he jumped out of the cab and went to the people waiting for him. Among them was a longtime president’s friend, billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, whose Stroygazmontazh and Mostotrest companies built a bridge. Putin said something to him with a smile and jokingly jabbed his fist in the shoulder, so Rotenberg swayed.
In December 2019, railway traffic will be opened on the Crimean bridge. And the “construction of the century”, on which the state spent more than 300 billion rubles (including rail and road approaches), will be officially completed. As Forbes learned, Rotenberg companies did not manage to make money on it. Why did he get involved in this project four and a half years ago and with what did he come to its completion?
The fact that Russia needs a bridge connecting it with the Crimea, Vladimir Putin said in mid-March 2014 - even before the signing of the decree on the accession of the peninsula. Who could take on such a project? The recently completed grand Olympic construction project went powerfully through the construction industry, mowing down such giants as Mostovik Oleg Shishov, Inzhtransstroy Efim Basin and Transstroy Oleg Deripaska F 30. In the first months, foreign companies showed interest in building the bridge, for example, in In July, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, responsible for the construction, argued that there was no end to the contractors, including Chinese and Italian. But as relations between Russia and the world powers deteriorated due to the Ukrainian conflict, it became clear that the bridge would have to be built on its own and at public expense. Of the real candidates, two structures, controlled by old friends of Vladimir Putin, remained - Mostotrest Arkady Rotenberg and IC Most, in which the Stroytransgaz holding Gennady Timchenko owned.
The greatest involvement in the construction of the bridge was demonstrated by Stroytransgaz - the company held field seminars with infrastructure experts, and collected the opinions of design institutes. “We all crossed ourselves when Stroytransgaz began working on the bridge. We conservatively said that we would not go there as a general contractor - only subcontracting, ”Vladimir Vlasov, who has been heading Mostotrest since 2006, recalls his feelings. Why was there no desire? Mostotrest's shares were traded on a stock exchange - free float exceeded 30%, and foreign investors wanted to clearly understand if they had risks of becoming shareholders in a subsidiary company. The management of Mostotrest, according to Vlasov, has promised investors that the company will not go to the general contract on the Crimean bridge.
But unexpectedly, by the beginning of autumn, Timchenko’s attitude towards the project changed. The group of managers of Stroytransgaz came to the conclusion that the deadlines are very tight, the political responsibility is big, and the project does not promise big profits, Vlasov recalls. Volchenko Group spokesman Timchenko did not comment Forbes on the article.
The cost of the bridge was estimated at 228.3 billion rubles, and officials made it clear that the state would not provide opportunities to go beyond this amount. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, responsible for the construction, insisted that even sanctions cannot be an argument for revising the amount of financing, Vedomosti wrote, citing a source close to the Ministry of Transport. In this case, the bridge had to be erected in a seismically dangerous zone and in difficult meteorological conditions. And Vladimir Putin asked to finish construction by the end of 2018 - he talked about this later, on a direct line in 2016. The project could have turned out to be unprofitable, and this pushed Timchenko away, says a Forbes source familiar with the discussions of those years.
“I am afraid of reputational risks. This is a very risky story, I’m afraid to take it and not overpower it, ”Timchenko himself explained his refusal to build in December 2014. And six months later, he completely sold his stake in IC Most. At the same time, the billionaire withdrew from the capital of the road contractor ARKS, abandoning the idea of creating a construction mega-holding on the basis of Stroytransgaz (Timchenko shared these plans with Forbes in 2012).
Arkady Rotenberg agreed to build the bridge rather spontaneously, informing Vladimir Vlasov “one morning,” the top manager recalls. “Of course, we predicted that something like this could be, but we did not expect that a person would have already undertaken obligations, and even with a limited price,” says Vlasov. Putin personally asked for the Rotenberg project, he knows a billionaire's acquaintance. “The president said - and it is necessary to do,” the billionaire recalled in an interview with Nail Asker-zade.
The general contractor for the construction and design of the bridge was not appointed Mostotrest. The order signed by the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the end of January 2015 featured the Stroygazmontazh company (SGM), the head office of the group of the same name Arkady Rotenberg. Falling under American sanctions in the spring of 2014, the SGM had not previously built either bridges or roads. It was one of Gazprom’s largest contractors.
But already in March 2015, a special company “SGM-Bridge” was created in the structure of the SGM - it was she who became the gender contractor. It was headed by 64-year-old native of Mostotrest Alexander Ostrovsky, who since 2007 worked as Vlasov’s deputy. In March 2016, SGM-Most decided on subcontractors and Mostotrest received a contract for 97 billion rubles. Subcontractors included eight more small regional companies. By this time, neither Arkady Rotenberg, nor his relatives had a formal relationship with Mostotrest.
Castling with Welfare
Before the state commissioned Rotenberg to build the Krymsky Bridge in January 2015, Mostotrest had two major shareholders - TFK-Finance, with a 25% stake, owned by five Blagosostoyanie NPF companies, and the offshore Marc O ' Polo Investments, which owned a 38.63% stake. The co-owners of the offshore were the son of Arkady Rotenberg Igor F 122 (68.45%) and the founders of the N-Trans transport group Nikita Mishin F 83, Konstantin Nikolaev F 84 and Andrey Filatov F 93.
In April 2015, Marc O’Polo Investments sold its entire stake in Mostotrest to Welfare. Following this, “Fortune” through “TFK-Finance” bought out the shares of other minority shareholders and consolidated 94.2% of the construction company. “By that time, other areas of interest to us appeared, and we decided to sell our share in the asset,” Forbes was told in N-Trans. The deal was concluded because the buyer offered a “good price,” Igor Rotenberg’s spokesman claimed in 2015.
But even after selling the company, the Rotenberg family still kept it in the orbit of its influence, which Forbes described in detail. TFK-Finance spent 17.99 billion rubles on the purchase of shares in Rotenberg and other shareholders. She actually took this money from the Rotenbergs - in the spring and summer of 2015, Stroygazmontazh gave her two loans totaling 18 billion rubles. In addition, several people from Rotenberg structures were included in the management of TFK-Finance. The Rotenbergs really retained control of Mostotrest, according to interlocutors of Forbes and Vedomosti.
Mostotrest needed a loan so that SGM, as the general contractor of Krymsky Bridge, could provide "a stable financial position and continuous implementation of the project," a Rotenberg representative later explained. A source in the road industry told Forbes that the deal with NPF Blagosostoyanie was tied to US sanctions and was allegedly an attempt to “hide the traces” of the Rotenbergs. In September 2016, the US authorities nevertheless made Mostotrest on the SDN sanctions list, that is, they introduced a de facto extraterritorial ban on doing business with the company. “Of course, sanctions have hit us,” Vlasov regrets. According to him, the management of Mostotrest expected that the business would grow, as in previous years, by 10-15% and was preparing to participate in various concession projects. For this, back in December 2015, the company registered several bond issues worth 100 billion rubles. It was possible to place only two issues of 5 billion rubles each in the summer of 2016.
And at the beginning of 2018, Rotenberg unexpectedly bought Mostotrest back. His representative explained this by the fact that the company has increased its competence in infrastructure construction, to which the billionaire allegedly regained interest.
The NPF Blagosostoyanie did not answer this question whether they managed to make money on Mostotrest. Under the terms of the transaction, Rotenberg bought out 100% of the TFK-Finance shares to Stroyproektholding. Thus, the structure of the pension fund was exempted from repaying the SGM loan. In 2015-2018, TFK-Finance, according to Forbes estimates, received about 9.7 billion rubles in dividends from Mostotrest. But, according to SPARK-Interfax, for all these years, TFK-Finance has not paid dividends to the parent structures. Some of them (according to Forbes estimates, at least 2.7 billion rubles) settled in the SGM in the form of loan payments.
The amount of the transaction with Rotenberg was not disclosed. Based on market quotes, the Mostotrest package owned by TFK Finance could cost about 38 billion rubles. A Kommersant source said that due to a debt to the SGM and subcontracting to the Crimean bridge, the deal could go through at a discount of up to 40%. According to the results of 2018, Stroyproektholding for the first time reflected long-term financial investments (usually they mean investments in shares) in the amount of 7.6 billion rubles. Representatives of Rotenberg and NPF Blagosostoyanie did not answer whether this amount corresponded to the transaction price.
After the bridge
Could Mostotrest itself make money on the construction site of the century? The company approached its end not in the best condition. In 2018, Mostotrest received the lowest net profit since entering the IPO in 2010 - 1.7 billion rubles and refused to pay dividends to shareholders. The order portfolio decreased from 419 billion rubles in 2016 to 275 billion rubles. In the annual report, Vlasov explained the fall in profits as a high debt - Mostotrest needed working capital for large projects. The manager complained about the difficult market conditions: on the horizon of 2019, large orders were not expected.
The Crimean bridge, most likely, will bring zero profit, Vlasov told Forbes: “It will be good if the general contractor Stroygazmontazh is not in the red.” Simultaneously with the Crimean bridge, the company completed work on large construction contracts with the Moscow government and work on the M-11 Moscow-St. Petersburg highway.
“We can say that a zero result is even a good result, there could be serious losses,” said Aton’s senior analyst Mikhail Ganelin. According to him, the low profitability of the project was affected by the high rate of speed of its implementation. The construction industry has been operating at a very low profitability in recent years - 0-3%, says Alexei Efanov, partner at NEO Center consulting company: “This is due to the fact that only costs are included in the budget, which are subsequently cut back by various regulatory bodies. It turns out that the profit, which should be formed due to more efficient work, is almost zeroed at the start. ”
“For me, this is apparently the final big project - and not for the purpose of making money,” said Rotenberg after he agreed to build the Crimean bridge. In the spring of 2019, it became known that the billionaire had agreed to sell the SGM to Gazprom. In November, according to a representative of Rotenberg, the deal was closed. According to RBC sources, the transaction amount is about 75 billion rubles.
Similar talks with the gas monopoly are conducted by Timchenko, sources said RBC and Forbes confirmed the acquaintance of the billionaire. On the basis of SGM and Stroytransgaz, Gazprom plans to create its own mega-contractor. A friend of billionaires claims that both are supposedly tired of working with Gazprom - the monopoly does not pay advances well, sometimes it changes the parameters of the project in the middle of it. In turn, both businessmen have a resource to advance their own interests in disputes with the monopoly, the source continues, which already causes discontent of the Gazprom management. In addition, Gazprom’s large-scale projects are coming to an end, and no large orders are expected in the near future. A Rotenberg spokesman told Forbes that the deal to sell the SGM was a market transaction, but did not specify the reasons why the billionaire left this business. At the same time, SGM-Most was removed from the holding company - it still belongs to Rotenberg.
Rotenberg now has other plans for Mostotrest. At the SPIEF-2019, Stroyproektholding and VEB agreed to create the largest player in the infrastructure construction market. Mostotrest, TEK-Mosenergo (owned by Igor Rotenberg) and the 1520 Group, one of the largest Russian Railways contractors, which Rotenberg sources say have a strong influence, may enter the transaction perimeter. What is the logic of partnership? VEB is one of the key executors of 13 national projects worth almost 26 trillion rubles, approved to implement Putin’s new May decrees. Sources of Vedomosti believe that in the future Mostotrest could receive large contracts for the construction of a bridge across the Volga (130-140 billion rubles) or the Dzhubga-Sochi highway (about 1 trillion rubles). In an interview with Forbes, Vlasov said that Mostotrest looks and analyzes any possible projects.
According to Ganelin from Aton, Mostotrest is the best and, possibly, the only contractor who can take on large and complex orders in bridge construction. In other sectors of infrastructure, for example, in road construction, the company still has competitors, for example, Autobahn or VAD. The list of specific projects has not yet been approved, but Arkady Rotenberg has always been able to receive large state contracts. In 2018, answering the question whether he was ready to take up the construction of a bridge to Sakhalin (included in the main infrastructure development plan), Rotenberg only shrugged his shoulders: “If there is such a task, then we can handle it.”
Crimean bridge - 241.7 billion rubles
Financing under the federal target program: 227.8 billion rubles (2014-2019)
Disbursed amount: 241.7 billion rubles
Crimean bridge is one of the most ambitious projects in the history of modern Russia. The longest in Europe, it is located in a seismically active zone, which means special requirements for structural strength. The task to build a transport passage through the Kerch Strait, Vladimir Putin set the Ministry of Transport March 19, 2014, the day after the signing of the agreement on the annexation of Crimea to Russia. The customer was the structure of Rosavtodor.
The Transport Ministry considered Stroytransgaz Gennady Timchenko as a contractor, but in December 2014, the businessman refused to participate in the project due to reputation risks. At the end of January 2015, the government determined another sole contractor - it was Stroygazmontazh, which is part of the SGM group Arkady Rotenberg. The main subcontractor was another company of the billionaire Mostotrest, which received a contract for 96.9 billion rubles. In 2015, Rotenberg sold the share of Mostotrest to the NPF Blagosostoyanie structure; in 2018, he bought it back.
The bridge was commissioned in May 2018, six months ahead of schedule. “A miracle happened!” Putin declared, opening the movement behind the wheel of “KamAZ”. The installation of railways should be completed in the summer of 2019. Shortly after the bridge was commissioned, six companies involved in construction fell under EU sanctions. In addition, the Prosecutor General of the Netherlands began an investigation into the involvement of seven Dutch companies in the supply of equipment for the facility.
Tavrida highway - 151.7 billion rubles
FTP financing: 174.357 billion rubles
The mastered amount: 151.7 billion rubles
Contractor: CJSC VAD
The construction of a 250-kilometer four-lane highway connecting Kerch, Simferopol and Sevastopol began in May 2017. Already at the end of December 2018, sections of the first stage with a length of 190 km were gradually launched.
The head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov appointed VAD company as the sole contractor for the project. This is one of the largest contractors in the Northwestern Federal District. Among the company's projects are the federal highway bypassing Kaliningrad for the World Cup, transport interchanges in the Leningrad Region and Karelia. In 2017, the minority co-owners of the company Valery Abramov and Viktor Perevalov took the second line in the Forbes rating “Kings of the state order”.
The full cost of building Tavrida has been revised several times: the federal target program in 2016 assumed 144 billion rubles, in 2017 the amount increased to 166 billion rubles, in the current version - up to 174 billion rubles.
Power plants "Tavricheskaya" and "Balaklava" - 71 billion rubles.
Financing: 25 billion rubles due to an increase in the authorized capital of Rostec Corporation; 46 billion rubles - due to loans
Disbursed amount: 71 billion rubles
The construction of two new thermal power plants was supposed to solve the issue of energy self-sufficiency of the Crimea: even after the launch of the 4th line of the energy bridge in the spring of 2016, the light turned off on the peninsula. The first blocks of Taurida and Balaklava earned in October 2018. The total capacity of the two stations - 940 MW - 90% of the energy consumption of the Crimea.
The customer was the Ministry of Energy, the contractor was Technopromexport, a subsidiary of Rostec, which built power plants abroad back in Soviet times. The company received 25 billion rubles for the facility through depositing the amount in the capital of the parent state corporation, and raised the remaining 46 billion rubles from the Crimean bank RNKB (100% of the shares belong to the state). To repay the loan, Technopromexport will sell electricity to Crimean TPPs.
The construction of the facilities was not without scandal: gas turbine units using Siemens technology were installed at the power plants. They were delivered to the peninsula contrary to the agreement between the German concern and Technopromexport in 2016, which states that the parts will not be used in Crimea. Siemens filed a lawsuit against Rostec, but the Moscow Arbitration Court dismissed it.
The new terminal of Simferopol Airport - 48.3 billion rubles
Financing: 34.9 billion rubles - loans, 13.4 billion rubles - property contributions of the Ministry of Economic Development to the authorized capital
Disbursed amount: 48.3 billion rubles
Artist: Akons Pro (formerly Alpha Construction, controlled by the Turkish group Teman)
The new terminal of Simferopol, the only operating passenger airport on the peninsula, opened in April 2018. And for the first time, plans for the construction of an object of the authorities of the Crimea were announced three years earlier. Budget allocations were not expected: financing - in total 32 billion rubles - was supposed to come from the airport’s own funds and from private investors.
In August 2016, the state bank RNKB, operating in the Crimea, and the Rossiya bank, Yuri Kovalchuk and his partners, allocated 34.9 billion rubles for construction by 2031 (14 billion rubles - loan body, 20.9 billion rubles - interest), reported the newspaper "Vedomosti". As part of the transaction, a legal entity was created at Simferopol International Airport LLC (49% from the Crimean government, 51% from investor banks), to which all airport property was transferred. The company pledged property, a contract and 100% of the authorized capital to secure a loan.
The Krymskaya Federal Target Program also provides for 13 billion rubles for the reconstruction of the airdrome: repair of the second runway, construction of a control tower, fencing, installation of light-signaling equipment. The press service of the Ministry of Economic Development of Forbes said that these funds have already been brought to the Crimean Council of Ministers, and they, in turn, to the airport - in the form of a property contribution. In early April 2019, the authorities announced the allocation of an additional 3 billion rubles for the reconstruction of Simferopol.
Energy bridge to Crimea - 46.7 billion rubles
FTP financing: the total cost of the energy bridge facilities is about 46 billion rubles.
Disbursed amount: 46.7 billion rubles
Contractor: TSIUS UES
After the annexation of Crimea to Russia, the supply of electricity to the peninsula from Ukraine, on which the local energy system depended by 70-80%, fell sharply. The Ministry of Energy instructed the FSK UES subsidiary, the Center for Engineering and Construction Management (TsIUS UES), to rectify the situation. The group of facilities providing power supply to Crimea from the territory of Russia is called the “energy bridge”: it includes a number of substations (new or modernized), high-voltage lines and a cable passage through the Kerch Strait. Its first line was launched in December 2015.
The most resonant project of the "energy bridge" was laying a cable along the bottom of the Kerch Strait. The first tender in the fall of 2014 for 13.8 billion rubles was canceled due to the lack of applications of adequate quality. In 2015, Ukrainian radicals undermined the power lines leading to the Crimea, almost completely de-energizing the peninsula. The main problem then was the lack of cable for the underwater section - it was not produced in Russia, and foreign companies refused to supply, fearing sanctions. As a result, in the spring of 2015, FGC signed a contract with the Chinese Jiangsu Hengtong HV Power System for 4.9 billion rubles.
Reconstruction of Artek - 32.9 billion rubles
FTP financing: 17.2 billion rubles
Disbursed amount: 32.9 billion rubles
After the collapse of the USSR, the most popular Soviet pioneer camp turned into an international children's center and became a state enterprise of Ukraine. After the change of jurisdiction of Crimea, Artek switched to the balance of the Russian budget. In 2014, authorities allocated more than 1.2 billion rubles to improve the infrastructure of the center: according to Rospotrebnadzor, then out of ten Artek camps, only five worked.
In March 2015, the government approved the Artek development program until 2020. The general contractor for reconstruction and overhaul was Stroygazmontazh Arkady Rotenberg. In three years, the company restored and commissioned nine camps, and in 2017 built three more sleeping quarters. Later, “Stroygazmontazh” began to build a new camp “Solnechny”, designed to receive 1000 children. After completing all the work, Artek will be able to accept up to 10,000 children at a time; 5,000 employees will work in the center.
Railway approaches to the Kerch bridge - 19.9 billion rubles
FTP financing: 17.758 billion rubles
Disbursed amount: 19.9 billion rubles
Arkady Rotenberg’s company also took part in the third large infrastructure facility in Crimea - the construction of railway approaches to the Kerch bridge. The contract with Stroygazmontazh in April 2017 was concluded by Roszheldor. The cost of the facilities initially amounted to 16.9 billion rubles, but in December 2018 increased by almost 3 billion rubles.
The new line will connect the existing network of Crimean railways with a bridge. The construction involves laying an 18-kilometer branch: it will join the Kerch-Dzhankoy section. In addition to the tracks themselves, construction of operational structures, tunneling and other works are provided. The start of temporary operation of the branch is scheduled for August 1, 2019, the completion of work and the commissioning of the facility is December 1.
The gas pipeline Krasnodar Territory – Crimea - 10 billion rubles
FTP financing: 9 billion rubles
Disbursed amount: 9.9 billion rubles
Although Crimea provided itself with gas from its own production, the peninsula depended on electricity supplies from Ukraine. When Russia had a need to build new gas power plants with a capacity of 900 MW, additional gas was required. In April 2015, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Crimea asked for 9.5 billion rubles from the federal budget for the construction of the Kuban-Crimea gas pipeline, the Kommersant newspaper wrote.
The construction of the gas pipeline was entrusted to the main Crimean builder, Stroygazmontazh, Arkady Rotenberg. According to the Federal Target Program, in addition to budget funds, 9 billion rubles from extrabudgetary sources were invested in the project. On the website of Stroygazmontazh the company is listed as an investor in the project.
In December 2016, a gas pipeline with a capacity of 2 billion cubic meters was launched from the Krasnodar Territory to the peninsula. m of gas. In January 2017, Stroygazmontazh leased the facility to the state Chernomorneftegaz, the contract amount amounted to 988 million rubles. In March 2017, the project reached its planned mode of operation. The length of the gas pipeline is 358.7 km. Two TPPs operate on incoming gas.
Semashko Republican Clinical Hospital — 7 billion rubles
FTP financing: 8.9 billion rubles
Disbursed amount: 6.9 billion rubles
Contractor: SGM Group
The Republican hospital near Simferopol is being built for money from the federal target program. The 12-story center will include medical, diagnostic and pathoanatomical buildings, a catering unit and other facilities. The hospital has a capacity of 734 beds. Its cost is 9 billion rubles, which is more than a third of the funds provided by the government for the development of healthcare in the Crimea until 2022.
In March 2019, the facility was 75% ready and was scheduled for completion in September. According to Forbes, Deputy Prime Minister of Crimea Yevgeny Kabanov, as of April 1, 2019, about 6.9 billion rubles were spent on the hospital.
In February 2017, the Vademecum portal wrote that Moskapstroy was engaged in the design of the center (at that time 30.43% belonged to Sistema Vladimir Yevtushenkov), and the construction was carried out by SGM Group, which Vademecum also associated with AFK. At the request of Forbes, the official representative of AFK Sistema Sergey Kopytov informed that the holding does not conduct investment activities in the territory of Sevastopol and Crimea.
Car approaches to the Kerch bridge - 6.9 billion rubles
FTP financing: 8.558 billion rubles
Disbursed amount: 6.9 billion rubles
Contractor: CJSC VAD
8.6 km of car approaches to the Crimean bridge from the side of Kerch connect the bridge to the Tavrida federal highway. The construction of the four-lane road began in February 2017. Fully automatic approaches (including for freight vehicles) were opened in October 2018.
The contractor for the project, CJSC WAD, is a member of the Forbes version of the Kings of the State Order rating, Valery Abramov and Viktor Perepalov, who are included in the US sanctions list. In March 2018, the Crimean Highway Service signed a contract for 3.4 billion rubles with WAD. The previous contract for 5.8 billion rubles was terminated, but at the time of termination, the contractor had already completed work for 3.5 billion rubles. Thus, the total cost of auto-approaches amounted to 6.9 billion rubles.