One of the most ambitious projects of the national program "Digital Economy" - the creation in Russia of a global multifunctional information and communication satellite system (GMISS), analogue of the American OneWeb, - may lose its only potential investor so far. As it became known to Kommersant, Vnesheconombank (VEB) decided to refuse to participate in the design and financing of the HMISS. It will be difficult to attract commercial financing to the project, most likely, it will be provided by other state structures, market participants believe.
VEB intends to abandon the support of HMISS, which is created with the participation of the Roskosmos state corporation and Russian Space Systems (RCC), follows from the letter of Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of the bank Aleksei Ivanchenko to Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov dated September 11 (a copy is from "b" "). Mr. Ivanchenko proposes to exclude VEB as a co-executor of the events related to the financing and design of the HMISS, from the passport of the program "Digital Economy in the Russian Federation". VEB is at the same time ready to participate in the activities of the national program related to the development of digital start-ups, and theoretically it can return to the issue of GMISS.
The HMISS is part of the Sphere project, announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a straight line in June 2018. It is assumed that the system will be created on the basis of domestic spacecraft and user equipment, while the entire "Sphere" will consist of 600 satellites. HMISS is considered the most expensive project of the "Digital Economy": its funding is estimated at 299 billion rubles. from extrabudgetary sources. In total, the government expects to involve in projects of the "Digital Economy" 2.79 trillion rubles, including 1.08 trillion rubles. from the federal budget.
Roskosmos has not yet received notifications of VEB's withdrawal from the Sfera project and continues to work out options for its financing, including through private investments, Kommersant was told by the state corporation. Representative of Maxim Akimov Aliya Samigullina did not specify whether VEB's letter was considered. In the VEB itself, they did not respond to a request from Kommersant.
The issue of VEB's exit from the HMISS was discussed on September 5 at a meeting of the working group under the Presidium of the Presidential Council for Strategic Development and National Projects, follows from the letter. Passport of the national program "Digital Economy" was approved by the council at the meeting on September 17: it was decided that the details of the financing of the HMISS should be determined by 2020, the Roskosmos, the RCC and the responsible development institutions were designated as responsible, TASS said earlier referring to the national program passport. But the design time of the HMISS has already been postponed from 2021 to 2022.
Initially, it was planned to establish a consortium with the participation of VEB, Roskosmos and other organizations. The interest was also shown by Rostelecom, whose president Mikhail Oseevsky said in May that the company is actively discussing with Roskosmos a project to provide remote and remote territories for the Internet and is ready to create a ground infrastructure for it.
In case of failure of VEB, HMISS can finance another state bank, says Vasily Barashkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of SCANEX (satellite imagery supplier). For such a project, "long money" is needed, since its access to payback may take more than ten years, he believes. Representatives of Sberbank, VTB and the Russian Direct Investment Fund did not comment on the potential interest to participate in the HMISS.
The Russian space industry GMISS has not yet been officially introduced, the configuration of the project is not clear, said the head of one of the industry enterprises. The commercial effectiveness of satellite mega-groups for Internet access services on the ground is not obvious even to foreign players OneWeb and SpaceX, said Mikhail Kokorich, general director of the start-up Momentus. Operators need "colossal investments that are not easy to attract, because the market is small, since most of the effective demand is for cellular communication." In Russia, the market for satellite communications services is only "hundreds of millions of dollars", although it can be expanded at the expense of clients from among state-owned companies, he believes. "For the Russian market this kind of grouping will be absolutely commercially inefficient. The only goal of the project is to come up with a new way of financing the space industry, "Mr. Kokorich fears.