Ministry of Digital Development offers to subsidy foreign buyers of Russian software

Ministry of Digital Development offers to subsidy foreign buyers of Russian software

To receive a soft loan, a foreign borrower must meet the following requirements: not to be in the process of liquidation, reorganization (except for the reorganization of the borrower in the form of merger or transformation); the borrower should not be subject to insolvency (bankruptcy) proceedings.

The soft lending programme for Russian companies implementing digital transformation projects was launched at the end of 2019. programme participants were able to lend from RUB 25 million to RUB 5 billion for a project at a rate of 1 to 5%, and for a programme with a budget of 500 million rubles – up to 10 billion rubles on same conditions. Money could be given only to projects that are 60% Russian solutions. The terms of the programme have been revised several times. The minimum amount of soft loans for one project was reduced to 5 million rubles, and the required share of domestic software in projects also increased to 70%.

Now the ministry plans to expand the soft lending programme by adding new categories of borrowers. They will be able to attract not only loans on special conditions, but also preferential financing against the assignment of a monetary claim (factoring), follows from the draft resolution. It is also proposed to increase the amount of soft loans – up to 20 billion rubles for a separate project and up to 30 billion rubles for the digital transformation programme.

According to the project, it is allowed to attract preferential financing for the costs of modification and adaptation of foreign developments.

Loans for import substitution

“Preferential loans will be available not only to Russian organizations, but also to foreign companies implementing digital transformation projects based on Russian IT solutions, as well as Russian software developers,” Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maxim Parshin explained to Vedomosti.

“Large integrators and software developers are interested in obtaining preferential loans, and banks, in turn, are ready to lend to IT companies if the government extends subsidies to this category of borrowers,” Parshin told Vedomosti. According to him, the draft resolution can be signed in the first quarter of 2022. 

According to Parshin, the average interest rate for projects that have already received loans under the programme of the Ministry of Digital Development is 3%, while individual agreements are concluded at a rate of 1.5%. The company applies directly to the bank participating in the programme, which independently makes a decision on granting a loan and, after the conclusion of the agreement, sends documents to the Ministry of Digital Development to receive a subsidy.

At the request of IT developers, banks will also independently assess the quality of projects and the reliability of borrowers, he continues.

“The bank will not support projects in which it has doubts, as it risks not to repay the borrowed funds,” Parshin explained. “If the project is unsuccessful and the borrower is unable to repay the loan, the bank will suffer losses many times greater than the subsidy of the Ministry of Digital Development. There are no such cases in our practice”.

Who issues soft loans

Now, 22 banks are engaged in issuing preferential loans, according to the Ministry of Digital Development. The most active are VEB.RF, Sberbank, Gazprombank, Alfa-Bank, VTB, Sovcombank, Raiffeisenbank, RNKB. As a representative of the press service of VEB.RF told Vedomosti, at the end of 2021, the volume of concluded loan agreements approached 32 billion rubles, of which more than 5.4 billion have already been directed to finance digital projects of companies in the communications, transport, and electric power industries, etc. In 2022, VEB.RF expects further growth of interest in preferential lending both from consumers of IT services and from participants in the domestic IT market, the press service of the state corporation reported.

“We see interest in the concessional lending programme on the part of large Russian infrastructure companies and telecom providers,” Dmitry Seredina, Head of the department for work with large companies and investment banking products at Raiffeisenbank, told Vedomosti. “The changes to the programme rules will allow IT companies to directly receive subsidized loans and should increase the flow of applications, but it is still difficult to estimate the timing of their entry into force.” A spokesman for Sberbank declined to comment. 

At the moment, attracting loans by software development companies is hampered by the lack of material guarantees, notes Valentin Makarov, President of the Russoft Association. “The use of intangible assets as guarantee – patents, rights to software – is not supported by the regulator in any way, therefore banks provide loans only under existing contracts. Interest rate, as in other cases, depends on the Central Bank rate + 3-7% depending on the size of the company and its credit history. As a result, the industry is clearly underfunded, the need for investments and loans is 3 times higher than the resources actually available on the market,” Makarov explains.