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Privatization all over again

Whatever Russia's government is or is not doing, Russian companies have found their own reasons for making improvements in corporate governance and boosting shareholder value. At least one market player dubs this consolidation process reprivatization. However there is still much to be done to restore the brittle confidence of local investors and only after this has happened will foreign funds consider returning to a market which knows how to burn them. Ben Aris reports from Moscow

Igor Kostikov

As president Vladimir Putin celebrated a year as president on March 26 it was still not clear exactly what he intended to do with Russia, but he can already mark down several major achievements.

The biggest is that business has been decoupled from government, Under Boris Yeltsin there was a strong connection between success and how close a company was to the Kremlin. In Putin's Russia this is no longer true.

Only two months after he was inaugurated last May, Putin called in most of Russia's business elite to what has been dubbed the oligarchs meeting and laid down the law: steal from each other if you want, but don't touch state assets.

The oligarchs took Putin's warning to heart and have been busy getting their act together. Companies now talk about shareholder value and corporate governance through increasingly slick PR machines.

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