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The rise of the unpronounceables

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Analysts were scrambling for their atlases last month after Khelb Altaya (Altai Bread), floated on the RTS. The small flotation, even by Russian standards, of the federation's biggest grain processor is the latest of a wave of "no name" corporates to pop up on investment bankers' radar from the flourishing ranks of second-tier companies.

"There is a huge raft of companies with sales that have grown to $500 million or $1 billion a year but remain more or less anonymous. Since the Yukos affair they have begun to report their real earnings – and some of these are massive," says Peter Westin an economist with Aton in Moscow, referring to the oil company dismembered by the Kremlin in December.

For most of the past 14 years about a dozen companies, mostly natural resource producers, have dominated, but in the past six months smaller companies have been coming to prominence as they are not that small any more.

Khelb Altaya is typical of the new breed. It is growing fast helped by International Finance Corporation loans and has a 10% market share, which it hopes to boost with the $4 million raised on the RTS, Moscow's stock exchange.

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