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Russian Brokers: Can they stay independent?

A potential powerhouse player entered Moscow's brokerage market with the creation last month of Brunswick Warburg, a 50:50 joint venture between SBC Warburg and Brunswick Investment, one of the country's leading independent brokers. The venture could be the first of many, with JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch all expected soon to develop Russian operations. Indeed, the changing nature of the Russian market has led some to speculate that no small, independent Russian broker will survive until the end of the decade unless it forms an alliance with a deep-pocketed foreign partner. Moscow has been described as one of the most over-brokered cities in the world, with more than 200 licensed firms chasing a reported daily equity turnover of less than $100 million.

One reason cited for the new venture was the substantial credibility and placing power created by combining the two names. SBC Warburg had maintained a 10-strong team in Moscow, but the office dealt primarily with corporate finance and undertook no trading within Russia. By contrast Brunswick, founded by former Swedish diplomat Martin Andersson and a group of Russian and foreign investors, consistently features well within the top 10 in league tables published by Naufor, the dealers association, and now has 130 staff between two offices in New York and Moscow.

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