MegaFon holds back its London market listing

Tim Wallace
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RUSSIAN telecoms firm MegaFon yesterday postponed its London-Moscow listing, striking another blow to hopes that a flood of firms from the country could kick-start the sluggish initial public offering market in the City.

The group hopes to raise $2bn (£1.25bn) from the sale of up to 20 per cent of its stock, listing global depository receipts (GDRs) in London and shares in Moscow.

But MegaFon’s acquisition of 50 per cent of handset retailer Euroset last week has put a spanner in the works, as the firm now has to re-work the information it gives to investors.

On top of that pressure, regulations mean it has to allow shares to trade for a minimum period before its next financial statement – in this case, MegaFon’s upcoming third quarter results. It now hopes to hold investor roadshows shortly after.

The delay comes days after Goldman Sachs dropped off the syndication, prompting worries about corporate governance at the firm. But investment giants Citi, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse remain involved, as well as lawyers Freshfields. And it is understood MegaFon will publish its governance checks when it next goes to investors.

The firms also insisted its postponement bears no relation to the collapse of fellow Russian Promsvyazbank’s IPO, which failed to attract enough investors to get the float away.

“Investor engagement in the investor education process has been exceptionally strong and the company is looking forward to commencing its roadshow in due course,” the firm said yesterday.

The Promsvyazbank flop dampened market sentiment which had previously been boosted by the successful Sberbank float. But MegaFon is confident of a strong float in the weeks after its results.