General cleaning: why Igor Shuvalov began to reduce VEB employees

Igor Shuvalov began work at the head of VEB with a proposal to cut almost half of the staff of the state corporation. Although the savings will be small. To become an effective development institution, VEB needs to cut costs, experts say.
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After the appointment of the former First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov as the head of Vnesheconombank (VEB), the state corporation is awaited serious changes, officials in the official statements make clear. "Now the bank has a new stage of development," Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting of the VEB supervisory board on May 29. During the week that Shuvalov is the head of the development institute, it became known about several of his initiatives, the most significant of which is the reduction of almost every second employee of the corporation.

Excessive functions

Based on the results of the internal audit, VEB decided to reduce the number of personnel by 40-50%, the press service of the corporation reported. The bank "significantly changes the approach to business and problem assets, some functions can become redundant for the development institution", the company explained its decision. VEB also noted that reducing the staff will not only save on wages, but also reduce the cost of renting space and transportation costs. For those who remain, VEB intends to increase the requirements for labor productivity.

According to Vnesheconombank's last quarterly report, the average number of employees of the state corporation in 2017 was 1,795 people. Thus, we can talk about the reduction of 700-900 people. For payments to employees (salary plus social payments), VEB spent about 7.6 billion rubles last year, of which 757 million rubles were allocated to members of the management board. If we proceed from these indicators, with a reduction in half of the staff of VEB, which received nearly 300 billion rubles by the end of the year. loss, can save only a few billion rubles on wages.

Under the reduction of redundant functions, which the bank speaks, can mean the optimization of the management structure and the reduction of some departments or departments that can be assessed as inefficient, including their managers, argues Fitch analyst Anton Lopatin. The issue of staff reduction is a matter of those functions that the bank is aimed at, says Kirill Lukashuk, head of the group of financial institutions ratings. "The new head of the bank, in all likelihood, has a slightly different view of the volume of the functional that will be inside the bank," notes Lukashuk.

Solve old problems

VEB should become a "key tool" in the implementation of the presidential May decree, stressed on May 29, Dmitry Medvedev. Under the decree of this decree, a significant part of which is to implement infrastructure projects, VEB promises to be capitalized - in particular, President Vladimir Putin spoke about this, discussing with Shuvalov his appointment as head of the corporation. Issues of capitalization are in the works, there are no concrete figures yet, RBC said in the press service of VEB. Now the budget for 2018-2020 provides for the provision of VEB from the state for 100 billion rubles. annually. In addition, to maintain liquidity, VEB in the second quarter planned to receive a deposit from the Ministry of Finance for 200 billion rubles.

The past year was a failure for the state corporation in terms of financial performance - VEB showed a record loss of 287.7 billion rubles, creating reserves for 250 billion rubles. for impairment of assets. However, experts called the main reason for such a negative record the decline in aid from the state. If not for the state subsidies, VEB's loss already in 2016 would have reached 500 billion rubles.

According to Natalia Akindinova, Director of the Institute for Development Studies of the Higher School of Economics, taking into account the tight deadlines for preparing the program for the implementation of the May decree (until 2024), the establishment of VEB as the key executor of the decree and elimination of internal problems of the state corporation will occur simultaneously. "I see in this decision [making the bank a key tool for enforcing the decree] also the idea of ​​separating the current work of the government from the activities to implement the decrees," the expert notes.

Since one of the tasks of the May decrees is to increase the volume of investments, the development bank, which is Vnesheconombank, is well placed in the concept of the key instrument for the execution of the May decree, says Lukashuk. However, he adds, first the bank needs to close the old problems - this is the task without which it will be difficult to talk about qualitative changes. How quickly the bank will be able to cope with this depends on the willingness of the state to allocate resources to support VEB, the analyst notes. "An important moment for such a development institution as VEB is the opportunity to negotiate and find compromise solutions," concludes Lukashuk.

Among the old problems faced by Vnesheconombank are its inefficiency from the economic point of view. According to the analyst Fitch Anton Lopatin, VEB at the consolidated level of the performance measure (cost to income, ratio of costs to income) in 2017 was about 70%, while on average in commercial banks in Russia it is around 50%, while that commercial banks operate through a network of branches and therefore bear significant rental costs. VEB said that it intends to increase revenues, but it is necessary and optimize costs, says Lopatin. "The higher the cost-to-income ratio, the greater the pressure on the bank's profit and the less profit margin for creating reserves," the expert says. Even though VEB is not a commercial bank, but a development institution, if the bank can not create expenses for reserves from its own profit, it will again require an infusion of capital from the state, the analyst explains.

The first three deputies

The management team of the new head of VEB continues to form, but the most important question - who will be Shuvalov's first deputies - is already resolved. According to RBC sources, Mikhail Kuzovlev, ex-head of the Russian Capital Bank, will be added to the already active first deputy chairman - Nikolai Tsekhomsky and Mikhail Poluboyarinov.

Tsekhomsky from 2016 oversees the VEB block "finance and development", Poluboyarinov - since 2012 as first deputy chairman oversees infrastructure projects. What will he do at Kuzovlev Bank, while for certain it is not known, but the ex-banker has a lot of experience with bad debts - that's what he was doing, managing the assets acquired by VTB-Guta Bank (since 2004) and the Bank of Moscow (from 2011), and also at the previous place of work in Roskapital, supervising the unfinished objects of the ruined SU-155 developer.

Distressed debts are one of the main difficulties that VEB faced in recent years. The state corporation, which was established as an institution for development, for several years gave loans for projects that could not pay off (for example, the Olympic projects for Sochi-2014, which VEB financed at least 240 billion rubles, and loans to Ukrainian companies in the Donbass at $ 8 billion ). VEB ex-head Sergei Gorkov in an interview with RBC in the summer of 2017 said that VEB had formed a portfolio of distressed assets of 1.5 trillion rubles, but decisions on assets of about 1 trillion rubles. managed to find. In particular, the Ukrainian corporation transferred the Ukrainian debts to the Industrial Assets Fund created in late 2016.

Shuvalov also begins to translate into VEB people from his office. As two well-informed sources of RBC say, his assistant Marina Romanova is leaving for the bank. Another person who will come to the corporation along with Shuvalov is Yuri Gazaryan, deputy head of Shuvalov's secretariat. Ghazaryan will become one of VEB's deputy chairman, knows the source of RBC and the source of Interfax on the banking market. Gazaryan has already replaced ex-head of VEB Sergei Gorkov in the list of candidates for the board of directors of Gazprombank (where VEB owns 8.5% of voting shares). The press service of VEB refused to give RBC comments on personnel matters.