ST. PETERSBURG, May 24. /TASS/. The first day of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum was marked by a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. The Russian leader noted that relations between Moscow and Paris are evolving despite the odds.
"I would like to thank you for accepting our invitation to attend the St. Petersburg Forum," Putin said. "We will use this opportunity to thoroughly discuss bilateral relations, which are evolving despite all the current difficulties and our trade keeps growing," he added.
Putin also pointed out that trade between the two countries had grown roughly 25% in 2017 and the upward trend is still going strong in the first months of 2018.
In his turn, Macron said Paris and Moscow could maintain dialogue and find solutions to global issues such as the situation in Ukraine, the Middle East, Iran and Syria. The French president added that relations between the two countries continued to develop, particularly on the economic front.
On Thursday, Putin also met with the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. During the meeting the Russian head of state noted the important role the IMF is playing in maintaining global financial stability.
"Russia, as a member of the Fund, is interested in boosting the efficiency of its operations," Putin said.
Lagarde is expected to participate in a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum together with Putin on Friday.
The Russian natural gas producer, Novatek, will sell its 10% share in the Arctic LNG 2 project to France’s Total, Novatek CEO Leonid Mikhelson told reporters on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
"Total will participate with a 10% share," Mikhelson said. Moreover, "We plan to hold the 60% stake. If we decide to reduce the share, but not less than 50% in the project, then Total will have the right to increase its stake to 15%," Mikhelson added.
The price tag for the Arctic LNG 2 project is about $25.5 bln, the company executive noted. This figure is indicated in the agreement for the sale of the 10% stake in the project to Total.
The Russian company said it planned to close the deal as early as in the first quarter of 2019.
Novatek and Total inked an agreement on the participation of the French company in the Arctic LNG 2 project. The deal was signed after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
The Arctic LNG 2 project is Novatek’s second liquefied natural gas plant to be launched in 2023. Its capacity will be over 18 mln tonnes of LNG per year.
This year France has the biggest foreign delegation at SPIEF, a representative of the French embassy told TASS.
"A total of 170 representatives from 60 companies are expected to arrive, with half of them representing large business and the remaining part - small and mid-sized enterprises," the official said.
"On May 24-25, President of Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF) Pierre Gattaz and Chairman of MEDEF International Frederic Sanchez will head the biggest foreign delegation at SPIEF. Around 20 contracts and cooperation agreements will be signed at the forum," the embassy said.
On Thursday, France’s Dalkia Group signed an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). The parties agreed to cooperate in the field of energy saving solutions such as high-efficiency systems and resource consumption optimization.
Russian communications services provider Rostelecom and Nokia signed a memorandum on the establishment of a joint venture to develop solutions for various markets of innovative technologies.
According to Rostelecom, the joint venture is to become the basis for the formation of a Russian provider of advanced network technologies and cloud solutions.
Vice President of Nokia in Eastern Europe Demetrio Russo stressed that his company is ready to provide Rostelecom with innovations and experience to form an economically efficient portfolio of infrastructure solutions and business models.
On SPIEF’s first day, Russia’s Vnesheconombank (VEB) and India’s Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited announced the launch of Viman Capital, a joint Russian-Indian private equity fund for innovation and technology.
The new fund will support Russian and Indian tech companies throughout global markets, primarily in BRICS countries, the Eurasian Economic Union and ASEAN. The initial investments are expected before the end of this year. During the first stage, the amount of funds at the institution’s disposal will be up to $100 mln and in the future it can grow as high as $200 mln.
According to Russia’s Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) may participate in the projects of Russia’s new infrastructural fund, which is now being created.
"An innovation we will work on is to raise money for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to finance projects of this fund," the minister said.
According to First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, the new fund will be established in 2019 and will finance projects on main line infrastructure.
"These are railroads, ports, airports. This is what the fund is intended for," Siluanov said.
SPIEF-2018 is scheduled for May 24-26. The forum’s events are held under the slogan: "Creating an Economy of Trust." TASS news agency is acting as an information partner and the official photo hosting agency of SPIEF. TASS is also the operator of the zone of SPIEF’s presentations with the support of the EY consulting company and the Foreign Investments Advisory Council (FIAC) in Russia.