Hope for new floats a welcome ray of sunlight amid the clouds

Marc Sidwell
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THE Russian bear gave the London IPO market a little bullish news yesterday, with mobile phone heavyweight MegaFon and lender Promsvyazbank seeking regulatory permission to pursue listings here.

Both firms have been mentioned in connection with possible London listings before, but given the current economic headwinds it is reassuring to see signs that both firms are still actively seeking to follow through.

Promsvyazbank delayed its original plans because of the global banking crisis in 2008-09. Pursuing a London listing now suggests a sunnier outlook, and indeed vice president Alexandra Volchenko said back in March that an IPO in the second half of this year would be dependent on market conditions staying positive.

Russian IPOs in London aren’t without their critics. The sort of concerns heard last year about large Russian energy and resources firms with concentrated majority shareholdings listing in London may rear up again. Russia’s richest man, Alisher Usmanov, holds a controlling stake in MegaFon and the Ananyev brothers own 88.3 per cent of Promsvyazbank. Neither firm will look to list more than a quarter of its shares here. Yet the City can ill-afford to turn its nose up at such deals with so little else around to choose from.