Sberbank steps up its participation in the investment project of upgrading the national satellite network carried out by RSCC, the Russian Satellite Communications Company under the aegis of the Ministry of Communications of the Russian Federation. Within the framework of the strategically and economically important federal program for re-equipping and expanding Russia's satellite communication network Sberbank has already granted several credit facilities for over 116 million US dollars. Currently Sberbank is considering further participation in financing.
The multi-source financing of the project will facilitate production and launching of five modern Express-AM series satellites and includes not only loans from Sberbank but also financing from the federal budget, own investments from the Russian Satellite Communications Company and credits from the suppliers of the equipment.
Under the project seven new generation communication and broadcasting satellites of Express-A and Express-AM series with enhanced technical characteristics are to be launched into geo-stationary orbit to replace the ageing technology currently deployed. This will allow Russia to maintain its frequency and orbital capacity, to significantly expand the technical potential of the RSCC, to materially increase the capacity of Russia's satellite segment in the project, improving the quality of communication and TV broadcasting, particularly by federal TV channels and extending the active operation life of the space group. The launch of the first Express-A1R satellite is scheduled for the second quarter of 2002. The total cost of the project, including production, launching and insurance of space vehicles and also providing land-based infrastructure amounts to approximately 800 million US dollars.
Currently international co-operation with the leading world producers of electronics is widely relied on in satellite production. Japan's Sumitomo, which participates in the project, is supplying the payload manufactured by NEC Corporation (also from Japan) for three Russian telecommunications satellites. The overall supply cost exceeds 100 million US dollars.
Considering the special significance of the contract and the interests of developing co-operation between Russia and Japan Sumitomo proposed to Sberbank that risks in the investment program be shared proportionately to the specific shares of the parties in the value of the payload supply contract. In this context the signed agreement on risk sharing between Sberbank and Sumitomo represents a new financial instrument for the Russian market, which allows the main creditor to receive compensation from other participants in the project in case the borrower fails to repay the loan. The Ministry of Communications acts as a co-ordinator in the development and realisation of the RSCC program for re-equipping the Russian satellite group within the Federal Space Program approved by the Russian Government. The enterprise is an authorised body of the Ministry of Communications for creating and operating technical facilities for satellite communications. RSCC is registered in the International Telecommunications Union and is a shareholder in the Intelsat and Eutelsat international companies and also the main partner in the Intersputnik international space communications organisation. RSCC accounts for approximately 64% of the domestic satellite telecommunications market. The enterprise ranks 15th among 47 largest space communications operators. RSCC has the largest orbital satellite network in Russia consisting of 10 geo-stationary satellites operating in C-, Ku- and L- ranges. It leases satellite segment capacities and information channels on Horizon, Express, Express-A, Ekran-M, Eutelsat W4 series space vehicles and also technical facilities of land-based stations for TV broadcasting, setting up of satellite telephone communications channels, data transmission, Internet access and video conferencing. The enterprise creates regional satellite TV broadcasting distribution networks, establishes multi-service networks for providing a wide range of modern telecommunications services on the basis of an integrated technical solution, provides access to the space segment of Intelsat and Eutelsat satellite communications systems, management and monitoring of Express, Express-A, Eutelsat, LMI and Intelsat satellites.
This international agreement demonstrates and confirms the significant role of Sberbank in actual support of strategically important branches of the Russian economy and is another important stage in implementing the national satellite group renovation project. It is also an evidence of further co-operation between the Ministry of Communications of the Russian Federation and Sberbank in developing the country's informational and communications complex.