FOREIGN EXCHANGE AS MOSCOW MOVES TO BECOME WORLD-CLASS

CAN MOSCOW ever become a world-class financial centre?

BP may have had its fingers burned over the ill-fated Rosneft deal, but Anglo-Russian relations are being improved behind the scenes following a Moscow-London foreign exchange to set up the Moscow International Finance Centre (MIFC).

First, Lord Mayor Michael Bear – the co-chairman of the MIFC Liaison Group with Russian businessman Alexander Voloshin – flew to Moscow to meet Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin with City representatives including Danny Corrigan, managing director of rouble products at ICAP; Howard Snell, chairman of Otkritie Securities; Axel van Nederveen, treasurer of EBRD; and Bob Foresman, head of BarCap Russia.

Returning the favour, Bear then hosted lunch at Mansion House for the Russian finance minister and deputy prime minister Alexei Kudrin, who landed in London with a group of Russian bankers and industrialists to continue the talks about how to make Moscow more attractive to foreign investors.

Like a grown-up foreign exchange then – although no-one tried their first cigarette on the trips; they just talked “regulation, equities, derivatives and marketing” in a bid to make Moscow a “respected” centre of commerce. “Much of the market is well-developed,” insisted Corrigan, who spent two years working in Moscow at ING.

The Capitalist also hears plans are underway to build a Canary Wharf-style physical base for the finance centre, to be located on the outskirts of Moscow, as part of a project that is shaping up to become a vote-winner in the Russian presidential elections on 4 March.

The current Russian president Dmitry Medvedev backs the proposals, as does Nikolai Kosov, the deputy chairman of state-owned VEB bank and a “wonderfully friendly Anglophile” who is, apparently, “a man to do business with”. “There is a target, there is a budget and with a fair wind behind it, the building project should succeed,” said a source close to the developments.

POOLING RESOURCES
GOOD to see JP Morgan’s traders pooling resources.

The Capitalist hears one JP Morgan Chase boss regularly lends his number two his Porsche for the weekend so the junior can impress at social occasions – weddings, visits from his French girlfriend etc.

Disaster struck, however, when the trader got so drunk one weekend that he lost all his personal possessions: phone, wallet… and the keys to his boss’s car. Only the fact that the reprobate is something of a financial star at the bank stopped the loss becoming a matter for HR…

CAPTAIN AMERICA
NEWS of the merger between City PR firm Finsbury and the US consultancy Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery was not released in the usual, professional Finsbury manner, so it didn’t receive as many column inches as the story deserved.

Nevertheless, the merger of the two Sir Martin Sorrell-owned companies is still generating a fair amount of chat in the City. Does this mean Finsbury founder Roland Rudd, promoted to chairman of the new RLM Finsbury, will spend less time on his London clients now he has “a bigger platform to operate from”, wondered one rival? Not so, says Rudd, who has assured friends that he will be every bit as focused on his UK contacts.

And where now for Rudd, now Europe has become too small and he has added America to his remit?

Outer space, according to one source, who predicted Rudd will travel along Richard Branson lines and take a look at expanding onto Mars. “Expect his sixtieth to be held on board a Virgin Galactic spaceship with 400 of his closest friends…”

GRADUATION DAY
CELEBRATIONS at Kentz Corporation, the engineering and construction firm that listed on AIM in February 2008, which today graduates to the main market of the London Stock Exchange following three years of “significant growth”.

While the investor team is rumoured to be splashing out on a liquid City lunch, chief executive Hugh O’Donnell is said to be taking a well-deserved break doing what he loves most when he is not working: extreme sports. It will be a survival of the fittest…

POET’S CORNER
IT WAS only a matter of time before the muse called on Felix Dennis (below), chairman of Dennis Publishing and poet, to write a few verses on the phone hacking scandal.

And here they are – although sadly, for reasons of space, The Capitalist can only bring you the first and last verses of the epic “Oh Do Not Call Them Vultures.”

“Oh, do not call them vultures, for vultures love dead meat. And rarely don disguises or lurk across the street. Not so the tabloid journalist, who craves his victims fresh, to feed a willing multitude that lusts for living flesh.

“Oh, do not point the finger; who made them what they are? Who built the Sun and Mirror, the Screw You and the Star? No patient in a cancer ward excoriates their nurse – the blame lies in our appetite: for scandal, or for worse!”