Shuvalov and Rotenberg took a long road

The authorities are ready to give state-owned contracts worth 140 billion rubles to VEB and Rotenberg companies without a competition.
The new joint venture of VEB.RF and Arkady Rotenberg - the group of companies "National Project" - can, without competition, receive contracts for the construction of several large federal highways. And the total amount of contracts that without a tender can get companies associated with Rotenberg can reach almost 140 billion rubles, Vedomosti found out.

The fact that the government plans to conclude long-term investment agreements with Natsproektstroy through non-competitive procurement from a single supplier is stated in the draft government order (Vedomosti reviewed the copy, the contents were confirmed by a person close to the government’s transport block). The company can obtain such contracts for the construction of two large projects - the Far Western bypass of Krasnodar and the bypass of the city of Aksai, Rostov Region, on the M4 Don highway section.

Another contract (and also without a competition) can be obtained by Transstroymehanizatsiya, which is part of Rotenberg's Mostotrest group and is responsible for the construction of roads in it. The company may become the sole contractor on a section of the M4 Don route (from 715 to 777 km), the government’s draft order says.

A government representative redirected questions to the Ministry of Transport. And his representative confirmed that the possibility of choosing a single contractor for these facilities is being considered, including to reduce the timelines for the implementation of projects and support systemically important enterprises. But the list of such companies does not include Transstroymehanizatsiya and Natsproektstroy, and assistance to enterprises from the list of backbone companies does not provide for the conclusion of state contracts with them without a tender. All possible options for the construction of projects provided by law are considered, a representative of the state-owned company Avtodor is laconic. The representative of the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of transport, Marat Khusnullin, did not respond to requests from Vedomosti.

Transstroimekhanizatsiya may also soon become part of a joint venture between VEB and Rotenberg. The stake in the company (through JSC Roads and Bridges) will enter a joint venture between VEB and Mostotrest, a representative of Mostotrest said, without disclosing the share and without commenting on the contracts for the construction of roads. But negotiations with Transstroimekhanizatsiya on participation in the construction are being conducted independently of the National Project Building, a person close to Avtodor knows. It is possible that the company will keep separate records for its contracts and contracts that will be transferred to the National Project Building, that is, it will be able to enter projects on its own, says a person familiar with one of the participants in the transaction negotiations.

So far, VEB has not formally become a shareholder of the National Projects Group of Companies, and no assets have been transferred - this will require another approval of the Supervisory Board chaired by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. National Project Director Ruben Aganbegyan plans to form assets for the construction of roads and bridges only in the fall, he told RBC.

Natsproektstroy is interested in forming a long-term contract base for its units in accordance with state plans and legislation, including in such infrastructure projects, the company is considering the possibility of participating in them on general terms, says a company representative. Earlier, he said that Natsproektstroy was also interested in the other largest project - the construction of the Moscow-Kazan highway. The company wants to get a general contract for the entire facility, consultants of infrastructure projects said.

Famous roads

The Avtodor state-owned company has been working on the M4 “Don” highway for many years. The construction of the Far Western bypass of Krasnodar, the Aksai bypass and the reconstruction of the M4 Don highway section are necessary to speed up the time on the road leading to the sea. “Our task is to make the M4 non-stop, at a speed of 120 km / h, to drive these 2,000 km from St. Petersburg to the Black Sea six hours faster than today,” said Vyacheslav Petushenko, chairman of Avtodor’s board.

The projects of the Far Western bypass of Krasnodar and the bypass of the city of Aksai stalled for almost a year and a half: all this time Avtodor could not decide what form of implementation of the projects would be - concessions, a corporate PPP or a long-term investment agreement, says the person who participated in the discussion of projects with Avtodor .

The cost of building the Far Western bypass of Krasnodar could exceed 41 billion rubles, several participants in the discussion of the project say. And the construction of the entire bypass of the city of Aksai on the M4 highway will cost even more - about 120 billion rubles, notes the source of Vedomosti, close to the state-owned company Avtodor (Petushenko estimated the investment in the project to be more than 100 billion rubles), but there are several construction sites the roads have already been raffled off, now the most expensive of them is at stake - 35 km of the road with a bridge over the Don River. In February, the Ministry of Transport of the Rostov Region tentatively estimated the cost of the site at 77 billion rubles. (but before undergoing the Glavgosexpertiza). The construction of the M4 section will cost about 18.6 billion rubles. excluding VAT at prices in Q3 2019, another Vedomosti interlocutor notes.

Market reaction

“The worst market fears are coming true,” says the head of one of the construction companies. Since the news of the creation of a joint venture between VEB and Mostotrest, the infrastructure builders have suspected that private business will not be able to compete with the combined player, including the state represented by VEB, he says. These roads are extremely interesting to the market, now there are few projects at the same stage of development that are ready to be launched, with project documentation and the conclusion of the Glavgosexpertiza, explains a top manager of another infrastructure builder. Almost all the largest companies are interested in them and continue negotiations on participation in these projects with the state-owned company Avtodor, he notes.

Previously, 5-6 companies competed for such projects, recalls the director of the Institute of Transport at the Higher School of Economics Mikhail Blinkin: for example, Stroytransgaz, Autobahn, Arks, Mostotrest and Crocus. But not all of the listed companies coped with the work, according to an interlocutor close to the government’s transport block, as a result, there was a “big three” road builders in the market: VAD (building Tavrida highway), Autobahn (building 3rd and 4th sections of the Central Ring Road) and Mostotrest. Over the past few years, Mostotrest has been busy building the Crimean bridge, and having freed itself, it has received a contract to build a road to it.

In 2018, according to InfraOne analytics (based on public data), three companies associated with the construction of roads received contracts from the state for 42-46 billion rubles. each - Mostotrest, VAD, construction association Kazan (the company was engaged in the construction of the Universiade projects in Kazan, but its website does not contain information about major road projects other than road junctions). Two more companies - Stroytransgaz (port facilities were also taken into account) and Avtodorogi received contracts worth about 15 billion rubles. For 2019, InfraOne analysts have not yet made an assessment.

Good technology is needed to build roads of the highest technical categories; companies can lease it with revenues of $ 1 billion a year or more, Blinkin says. Other builders also took part in the construction projects for the highways of the Avtodor state-owned company - for example, the Italian-Turkish company ICA Construction (she also built the Western High-Speed ​​Diameter in St. Petersburg) was the general contractor for the construction of the 7th and 8th sections of the M11 highway. But Avtodor has not held contests for a long time and this is bad, Blinkin says. Mostotrest is extremely strong as an engineering team, but if the company receives contracts without a competition, why such a team is needed, he wonders.