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Moscow Exchange: All revved up with no place to go

Moscow’s revamped stock exchange has everything it takes to be a global player, with the exception of supply and demand. Has Russia’s isolation put a dampener on its ambitious domestic capital markets development programme?

Describing the development of Moscow’s stock exchange at a conference in London in October, its chief executive Alexander Afanasiev said: “We have built the house, now we just need to occupy it.” He added ruefully: “Although perhaps ‘occupy’ isn’t the best word for a Russian to be using at the moment…”

Afanasiev’s black humour drew a wry chuckle from the audience, many of whom have nearly as much reason as he does to feel frustrated with the recent reversal of fortunes of Russia’s equity market.

After several years of relatively muted activity, bankers and investors alike had been looking forward to a flurry of listings this year from both public and private sector companies. Russia’s annexation of Crimea, however, put an abrupt end to those hopes and made it likely that Lenta’s February IPO – a London/Moscow dual listing – will be the last from a Russian entity for a long time to come.

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