Evtushenkov: "I did not expect that there will be so many defenders"

The largest co-owner of AFK Sistema Vladimir Evtushenkov in an interview with RBC told who helped him during the conflict with Rosneft, how much the company is going to reduce the debt and the share in what assets for this is ready to sell.
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"We want to reduce the debt by 70 billion rubles."

- How do you assess the level of the debt burden of AFK Sistema in connection with the amicable agreement with Rosneft, under which the company paid compensation of 100 billion rubles. in late 2017 - early 2018? How comfortable is it? By what will you reduce it?

- Of course, this (the litigation with Rosneft, which ended with the signing of a settlement agreement - RBC) was unexpected - for us and for the whole community. Therefore, the load naturally increased. But I think that we will try to significantly reduce it by the end of the year. This, of course, will be associated with the sale of some of the assets. But, in principle, the assets in order to exist and to buy and sell them. We are working on this.

Naturally, last year's events affected our capitalization and dividend payments (according to the results of 2017, Sistema decided to direct only 7.6 billion rubles for dividends, although the minimum level stipulated in the dividend policy is 11.5 billion rubles. - RBC), to contain certain investment activity.

But, on the other hand, as I was rightly told before in the kindergarten, at school and at the institute, there is no thin without good. As a youth, I honestly did not understand this. Now I understand. In recent years, AFC has been relying on its own resources and only on its own investment resource, and it has been difficult for us to become a real investment company, although we have declared this for several years. Now, when the money is just less, and there are more ambitions and interesting projects, we tackled a certain fundraising, that is, involving partners.

You know that there is a Russian tradition to have 51% - and everything in your pocket, now we do not look at assets like that. We are still involved in a number of investment projects, but we are already leaning not only on our own resources, but also on partners. Plus, the gray matter was much more intensively used than it was before [the court with Rosneft] began. All this is laborious work and new challenges.

- Following the results of 2017, Sistema's debt grew by 70% and amounted to 227 billion rubles. To what level do you plan to reduce it by the end of 2018?

- This year we want to reduce it to the amount of up to 70 billion rubles. And we, most likely, will do it.

- That is, there will be about 160 billion rubles.?

- Yes, up to 160 billion rubles. And this is for us an absolutely comfortable level of debt. Moreover, we will not even cut it further. The fact is that the whole business is built on credit money and on a debt / EBITDA ratio. If we are in a comfortable zone, we do not have any need to reduce the debt again and again. There are some examples when a company does not have a debt, but this is more an exception than a rule.

How "Rosneft" sued Sistema

The lawsuit filed by Rosneft and AFK Sistema began in May 2017, six months after Rosneft bought from the state Bashneft. The arbitration court of Bashkiria in August partially granted the claim of Rosneft and Bashneft to Sistema and recovered 136.3 billion rubles from it. Oil companies demanded to compensate 170.6 billion rubles. losses, which, in their opinion, Bashneft incurred during the reorganization in 2014 (until the end of 2014, the Bashkir company was controlled by AFK). On December 18, the appellate court upheld this decision.

On December 7, 2017, Rosneft and Bashneft filed a second lawsuit against Sistema on damages in the amount of 131.6 billion rubles. This is the amount of dividends that Bashneft paid to AFK in 2009-2014 and which Rosneft called the withdrawal of funds from the company. As a result, the total claims to Sistema reached almost 270 billion rubles, on December 23, the parties announced an amicable agreement, under which the AFC agreed to pay Rosneft 100 billion rubles.

"Today is not the best time for an IPO"

- In February, you raised 40 billion rubles. at RFPI and Gazprombank for six months, on the security of shares of Detsky Mir and the Bashkir Electric Grid Company. How is this loan serviced?

"I can tell you that everything is under control." Details I will not tell.

- It means that you will repay this loan or refinance?

- We will pay.

- And whether you will sell a share in "Children's world" (52.09%) entirely or a part of it?

"We will not sell a part for sure." And about the whole - we think. "Children's World" is a very successfully developing asset that has already left Russia. To be honest, the toad smothers him to sell, but this is not ruled out. In any case, there is definitely no such need, that it would have to be done tomorrow and at any cost.

- Have you decided to sell the stake in Detsky Mir completely to get a premium for control?

- Naturally.

- Involvement of partners in MTS is being considered?

- No, it is not considered. The matter is that today we are the controlling shareholders of MTS. If we attract a partner, we will cease to be controlling shareholders, and this leads to a whole chain of other events. While such a need is not visible.

- Tell me, will you sell the development assets? For example, the share in ZIL-Yug, which is located on the territory of the former plant?

- To sell - no. To involve partners in separate assets - yes. Actually, we do so. In one of our development projects, we attracted the Capital Group (in September 2017 it became known that the structure of shareholder of Capital Group Pavel Teh received 50% in the "Michurinsky Project", which builds a high-tech clinic "Medsi" and other real estate on Michurinsky Prospekt. RBC), and we will implement it together. But to sell development assets entirely just do not see the point, because they carry a good margin, they all went to the flow. Our company "Leader-Invest", perhaps, is now the third or second developer in the "old" Moscow.

- Are there any plans now to take out any assets of Sistema on the IPO?

- No. Today is not the best time for an IPO. And in order to conduct an IPO, you need to grow the asset. Because when assessing the company at $ 600-800 million for us, this is stupid and wrong. We will do an IPO if the capitalization of the asset is $ 2 billion. To make it a significant asset and, as they say now, a "unicorn", and not just "digging potatoes today, but digging out tomorrow, because you want to eat."

- Who at you now on the strengthened fattening that then to spend accommodation at a stock exchange?

"We have a number of assets prepared - Steppe, Segezha Group, and pharmaceutical assets (Sistema is owned by 74% of Binnopharm." - RBC): we are now consolidating it - it will be a big pharmaceutical company. A fairly large number of assets. Therefore, whoever comes first in accordance with our requirements and criteria, he will go to the stock exchange. I think this will be either the end of 2019, or 2020.

"Challenges do not frighten us"

- Sistema creates a joint venture with Rostekh in the field of microelectronics. How much is this segment attractive?

- All of us, of course, are patriots of the country. It's strange to meet a man who says: "I hate this country, but I live in it." And I'm a patriot of the country, especially since I'm older than you, we were brought up like this. The field of microelectronics is absolutely critical for the country. You can not talk about technological independence, if you do not have your own microelectronics. It's just stupid, because today on this chip - a billion or more transistors. There you can write anything. This is absolutely critical technology. Today without it it is impossible to do either the Internet of things, no cars, no computers.

- Do you offer full import substitution in microelectronics?

- When this joint venture will be created, in the country of other manufacturers of microelectronics simply will not be. It turns out the only company responsible for the development of microelectronics. This, on the one hand, is monopoly, and I have always been a supporter of the lack of monopoly. And even when we were owners of VimpelCom (we had a stake in the company - AFK Sistema - RBC), we specifically jumped to MTS to have a competitive environment. On the other hand, the creation of such a joint venture is a given and necessary.

And now a huge challenge for us is how to implement this, so that not only the state is good, but this joint venture was also like a business project. But, in principle, we face such challenges, as you know, all your life come across - whether it's Detsky Mir or Bashneft. Be it the MTS, which we took when the company had only a license, and we left the successful VimpelCom. Whether it is the "Steppe", in which we invested, when in general we did not understand anything in agriculture, and now it is one of the five largest agricultural holdings. Calls do not scare us, although there is much more in microelectronics than in any of what I called.

"I have long forgotten how to be surprised"

- One of the last challenges for Sistema is the court with Rosneft, which ended with a settlement agreement that involves payment of compensation. What is the role of the country's leadership and intermediaries - Sberbank and RFPI - in resolving this conflict?

- You know the role of the country's leadership even without me, because it was voiced by the president (Vladimir Putin called on the parties to reach an amicable agreement.) - RBC. Therefore, there is nothing to say and add. There were much more mediators, but not only they helped.

I'll tell you honestly that I did not even know that there are so many people who treat me well. When you are successful, you do not think about this question. Who treats you as you are - you walk with your head held high. And only when there are some setbacks, only then do you understand what you are posing in this society. I did not expect that there will be so many defenders and opponents in my favor. I will not list all the names - it's a huge list.

- Can you name even a few? It is obvious that among them is the chairman of the board of Sberbank German Gref.

- German Gref in the forefront, of course. There are no doubts, it is not even discussed. He is my friend. And this was expected. And I, in the same way, if something happened to him, I will always be on his side. Still take the same [the head of the RUIE Alexander] Shokhin. I will not say that he owes me something. But the fact that he found the courage to do, despite the fact that even he was summoned for interrogation (in the case of the privatization of Bashneft, in which Evtushenkov was under house arrest for three months in 2014 - RBC), it says that he is a man of high taste.

There are a lot of such people of high sample. I do not specifically call names. Such situations require confidentiality, and not openness, when they speak to the whole market.

- And who surprised?

- You know, I have long forgotten how to be surprised. But it's like charity: when you make a charity gesture, you should never expect that something will be done to you in return. I never expected that someone would follow me and repay, for anything - for a good word or for some kind of gesture, or for some act, or something else. Therefore, it was not something that surprised me, it pleased me and gave confidence.