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Russia Plans Massive Leap in Fishing, Aquaculture Industry by 2024

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Russian authorities plan to nearly double the country’s total seafood exports and upgrade its fishing and aquaculture industry in the next five years, Undercurrent News reports.

This week, Petr Savchuk, deputy head of the Russian Federal Agency for Fishery, said the country was planning to grow its total export potential from $5.5 billion to $8.5 billion in the next few years. Russia is already the fourth largest global exporter of seafood by volume.

“There has been around $5 billion invested in the Russian fish industry, and this is just the beginning,” said Savchuk, via a translator. “That was actually the task that was given to the ministry of fisheries by the Russian state.”

Last year, Russia produced 5.15 million metric tons of seafood, as well as started the construction of 35 new fishing trawlers, according to Savchuk. While the volumes remain high, Russia is losing a significant chunk of the added-value processing to China, a situation the state is keen to remedy.

Construction on 20 new seafood processing plants was started in Russia last year, centered primarily around the huge fishing ports on the Far East seaboard, Savchuk said.

“There is already a project started with the Russian railway company, and the whole idea is to create a couple of hubs in the territory of Russia through which the products from the Far East will be brought to other parts of the country,” said Savchuk. “There’s a couple of hubs they’re developing, for example in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don and other big cities of Russia where big refrigerator storage is being built in order to store the cod.”

Savchuk also noted that although Vladivostok has for years been the center of Russia’s Far Eastern fishing operation, recent years has seen other areas of Kamchatka, and particularly Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky emerge as a new hub for Russian fishery products.

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Unsecured Consumer Loans Booming in Russia: Report

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Russia has experienced a 25% year-on-year increase in unsecured consumer loans in the first quarter of 2019, despite the central bank’s efforts to cool the market Vedomosti reported citing data by Frank RG.

Unsecured loans accounted for around $16.2 billion of the total retail loans volume of $29.4 billion issued, and as a class are growing faster than overall retail loans (16%) and mortgages (3.5%).

In 2018 the Bank of Russia was concerned about the appearance of a consumer credit bubble and has tried to cool the overheated market.  

“The people are tired of their ascetic lifestyle. Part of the population is drawing on consumer loans just to maintain a level of consumption,” Bank of Russia deputy head Dmitry Tulin told the State Duma, the country’s lower house of parliament.

The consumer loan growth is an “objective process that should not be outlawed,” Tulin said, while admitting that the regulator have not yet succeeded in substantially cooling the segment. According to the Bank of Russia’s, the average loan amount also increased in the first quarter. However, the increase could have been front-loaded as the risk coefficients on consumer loans have been increased since April 1.

Market participants surveyed by Vedomosti warned what both the maturities and amounts of the loans issued increased as the CBR tried to cap the interest rates through tougher regulation. As the loans are unsecured, the danger of defaults in this case increases.

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Serbia Begins Construction of TurkStream Line from Bulgaria to Hungary

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Serbian company Gastrans, owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom, has taken delivery of 7,000 tons of pipes for the construction of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline from the border with Bulgaria to the border with Hungary, Serbian media reported.

The pipes were delivered at the Danube port of Novi Sad port and loaded on trucks to be transported throughout Serbia. Preparatory works for the construction of the pipeline were being carried for several weeks in the northern region of Novi Sad, the reports said.

By December, when the construction works should be completed, about 50,000 tons of pipes will be delivered, each 12 metres in length and weighing 5.27 tons.

Gazprom plans to build a string of its TurkStream pipeline for transit of natural gas to Europe from Turkey via Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary. The future pipeline on the territory of Serbia, approximately 400 km in length, will link the country’s natural gas transmission system to those of Bulgaria in the east and Hungary in the north. Sections of the pipeline are also under construction in Turkey.

Novi Sad-based Gastrans is 100%-owned by Swiss-based South Stream Serbia, according to data from Serbia’s commercial register. Gazprom owns a 51% stake in South Stream Serbia, while state-owned Srbijagas holds the remaining 49%, according to Gazprom data.

Last week, the Russian gas major said it expects to send first gas through its new 31.5 Bcm/year pipeline from Russia across the Black Sea to Turkey by the end of December, with construction now “at an advanced stage”.

“We expect that we’ll have [the pipeline] ready [for testing] in November. So, we’re aiming at [launching] in the last 10 days of December,” Gazprom’s deputy chairman Vitaly Markelov said, narrowing the timeframe expectations for the route.

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Roman Abramovich’s $100mn Film Fund Open to Western Projects, CEO Says

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Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has launched his highly anticipated $100 million private film fund, Kinoprime, which is “potentially open to English language and international projects,” Variety reports citing the fund’s CEO, Anton Malyshev.

The Moscow-based fund, announced last year, invests in projects at the final stage of filming. Malyshev has confirmed the Fund’s very first investment, pumping $750,000 into Fairy, the new feature from Anna Melikyan starring Konstantin Khabensky. The film shot last year and is in post-production. It will be released in Russia later this year by Karo.

Malyshev revealed Abramovich is a passionate supporter of Russian cinema who takes a direct interest in projects the new fund is supporting and will read synopses, if not actual scripts. “He has a very good nose,” Malyshev said, speaking in Cannes this week.

Abramovich headhunted Malyshev to run Kinoprime from the Russian State Film Fund where he was managing director.

The Fund has $100 million to spend over three years. It can provide up to 50% of a film’s production budget, with its investment capped at $2m a project. Potential investmets are assessed by an 10-person committee that includes leading Russian producers and directors.

The aim of the Fund is s to support both mainstream and arthouse Russian titles, It is also open to supporting international and English-language projects – as long as they have a Russian flavour. “Maybe Russian talents, maybe a Russian book or a Russian producer,” Malyshev said of the exact flavour they must have. “English language is OK for us,” he added.

As a private Fund, Kinoprime faces none of the restrictions that often hamper state film funds. The long term aim of the Fund is to bolster the image of Russian cinema abroad and at home, providing films eligible for selection in festivals such as Cannes, Venice and Berlin while also supporting the kind of local blockbusters (such as T-34, Three Seconds), “quality industrial movies” as Malyshev calls them, that have recently been doing such strong business at the local box office.

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