London gains Russian listings in IPO drought

Tim Wallace
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TWO MORE Russian firms yesterday announced plans to list in London, defying the poor funding environment.

Mobile phone operator MegaFon is planning a 20 per cent float, in an IPO that could be worth up to £2.5bn.

The firm, which was taken over by Alisher Usmanov in April, has asked regulators for permission to list.

It is thought that the float could take place within the next month, if market conditions appear favourable.

And Promsvyazbank filed for a London listing yesterday, having asked the Russian regulator for permission to list up to 25 per cent of its shares here.

Earlier this year the bank indicated that would raise roughly £630m.

London has long held an appeal to foreign firms looking to expand internationally, with more liquid markets, more quoted comparable companies and a large number of index-tracking funds, which boost demand.

Tough standards of corporate governance also help – investors in Russia are often suspicious of cronyism, and requirements for a majority of independent directors, for example, boost confidence. At a time when investment can be hard to come by, industry insiders believe a solid reputation can improve an IPO’s chance of success.

“The many benefits of a London listing may be even more important during a period of volatile equity markets,” said UBS’s Jonathan Rowley.

“A premium London listing gives investors greater confidence in governance and reporting standards.”