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SREI says to ink $500 million venture with Russia's state lender VEB

Hemant Kanoria, chairman of Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited, speaks on a panel during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York, September 29, 2015. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION St Petersburg, Saint Petersburg, Russia Jun 01, 2017, 12.08 PM (IST)

India's SREI Infrastructure Finance hopes to sign a $500 million joint venture this week with Russian state lender Vnesheconombank, or VEB, to finance exports of equipment to India, managing director Hemant Kanoria said on Thursday.

Kanoria was speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the St Petersburg economic forum where Russian and foreign businessmen gather every year in June.

"We are looking at a joint venture with VEB which will be trying to support equipment exports from Russia into India. This would be heavy equipment going into the mining, construction and other industry in India," Kanoria said, adding that the machinery could be leased or purchased in India.

"We are looking at half a billion dollars to do a memorandum of understanding with them." Asked if the venture could be announced at the St Petersburg forum, Kanoria said: "Yes".

He said SREI had also mooted creating a joint infrastructure fund together with the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) but progress had been slow so far.

SREI's projects in Russia have stalled since Western sanctions were imposed on Moscow after its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, forcing partners in its Russian venture to pull back. These include the European Bank for Reconstruction (EBRD) and Development and Germany's DEG.

In early December 2016 Sergey Gorkov, the head of VEB, secretly met with US President Donald Trump's son in law Jared Kushner, who is also now a senior white house adviser. The Washington Post reported that the federal investigation into Trump's Russia probe is looking at Kushner, because of "the extent and nature of his interactions" with the ambassador and Gorkov.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending this year's St Petersburg forum and also holding a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)

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