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A.Kostin: “Russia stands for increasing role of IMF in resolving different international economic issues”

 
18.01.2012

SKY NEWS HOST: Well, against this rocky backdrop the IMF is pressing fast-growing economies, such as Brazil, China and Russia to make bigger contributions to help boost its bailout funds to $1 trillion. To discuss this I am joined now by the Chairman and Chief Executive of VTB, one of Russia's leading banks, Andrey Kostin. Nice to see you, Andrey, many thanks for coming in. Before we discuss the IMF and Russia, just a thought on the offices of S&P being raided by Italian authorities, what's your take on that?

ANDREY KOSTIN: If you bring bad news, you should be ready for some reciprocal steps, so it's partly a joke, but, well, I think that everybody expected that taking into account the situation like the situation in Italy, there should be steps like this, so of course, it's difficult to say whether there was any misbehavior or some violation of law, I mean, that still has to be seen.

SKY NEWS HOST: Exactly, but it looks as though there is a backlash against the messenger. Right, the IMF would like your country to tip in many billions more into the hat to rescue failed economies. Is there any chance of Moscow doing that?

ANDREY KOSTIN: I think yes. Russia expressed earlier interest in participating in such actions. More than that, Russia stands for increasing role of IMF in resolving different international economic issues or economic issues in different countries, and Russia has resources for this, we have around a hundred billion euros in two special government funds, which are invested in different instruments, mainly in US Treasury bills, for example. We do have $500 billion reserves of our National Bank, so we have the ability, but of course, I think, another question which goes together with this one, it's the role of emerging markets economies, and countries in the activity of IMF, you know there was some debate for some time already, whether BRIC countries are seeking a bigger role in the activity of the organization. So I think, these two issues probably might be debated all together.

SKY NEWS HOST: Yes, it seems unlikely, doesn't it, that Mr. Putin would sign a bigger check without some strings attached, he would want to have a bigger say?

ANDREY KOSTIN: Yes, but of course, Mr. Putin also understands that Russia is not an isolated country, we are now joining WTO, for example, we've been severely affected by the global crisis in 2008, so we are very much interested in improving the situation, particularly in Europe, which raises a lot of concern for the Russian economy, so Russia is ready to participate actively in whatever international mechanisms exist, and IMF is of course one of these, but yes, I think that should be a reasonable approach, that Russian participation definitely should be properly justified.

SKY NEWS HOST: As Greece edges toward bankruptcy, it does seem that the euro will break up in some way, when do you believe that is likely, and what contingency plans does your bank, VTB, have for a break-up of the euro?

ANDREY KOSTIN: You know, as it happened in 2008, I mean, on one hand we are not directly exposed to problems, which exist in Greece, or Italy, or other countries. Russian financial sector has no portfolio of Italian bonds or Greece bonds or whatever, but the general economic situation in Europe might affect the Russian economy, and as a result, of course, it affects the financial sector, like it happened in 2008. Plus, of course, the lack of liquidity, or inability of Russian companies and Russian banks to borrow money in Europe, for example, also limit the ability of Russian financial sector or companies to finance their investments. So definitely, the situation in Greece raises concerns, we still believe that the unity can be preserved, because otherwise it means that the whole process, which started after the war, Second World War, will somehow be reversed, which will be very unfortunate, I think, for Europe, which is the second greatest economic power in the world. But yes, of course, the more extended solution, the more time it takes to take a solution, of course, the more probability that the worst might happen.

SKY NEWS HOST: As you mentioned, Russia is playing a bigger and bigger role in world bodies, you said the World Trade Organization, it is joining the family of Western countries, if I can put it that way, bit by bit, and yet, for investors looking at doing deals in Russia, we see protests on the streets of Moscow, we have accusations of ballot rigging. Why should people have any faith that Russia is really progressing along a more formal line of conventional capitalism?

ANDREY KOSTIN: Well, I think the importance of manifestation is very much exaggerated. The thing is that for 10 years we were living without any street manifestations in Russia. We saw a lot in London, we saw a lot in Greece and other parts of the world, but in Russia it probably was the first case for 10 years, and it was 60 thousand people, while there are 60 million voters in Russia. But it definitely gave a signal to Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev, that there is a growing some, at least, part of the society, and it is middle class mainly, who would like to see more changes, better opportunity for their business to develop, maybe, more political rights, and I think it is an interesting signal, but I think Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev recognize this, and I think they will try to move forward in the next 6-year term or whatever which Mr. Putin has.

SKY NEWS HOST: Andrey Kostin, I am sorry I going to have to cut you short. Nice to see you, thank you for coming in.

ANDREY KOSTIN: Thank you.


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