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Taking stock of Russian equities

The Russian equity market came of age in 1996. Prices doubled and the range of investors broadened to include some of the world's largest institutional investors. Will the boom continue in 1997? Peter Lee reports.

The Russians are here -­ at last

VimpelCom comes to the Big Apple

Last November, a week after completing a $110 million international stock offering for Russian cellular phone company Vimpelcom, Michael Anderson at Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette fielded a call from an anxious executive at VimpelCom's Moscow headquarters. The Berlin and Düsseldorf stock exchanges had just informed the company that they had listed its shares even though neither the company nor its international financial advisers had ever solicited such an honour. There was talk of the much larger Deutsche Börse in Frankfurt making a similar move.

"While it is unusual, the request of the two exchanges underscores the wide-reaching interest generated by the company's offering," says Anderson, a senior vice-president of equity capital markets at the US firm. Quickly shrugging off his surprise, he counselled Vimpelcom to discourage Frankfurt from listing the stock because of the potential threat to the liquidity of its just-distributed American depositary shares (ADSs) -- which were the first Russian shares to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). A minor incident, perhaps, but indicative of the tremendous appetite for all things Russian now prevailing in the international capital markets.

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