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Russians switch on to the equity culture

Russia has an undeveloped equity market culture, so it is no surprise that there are few retail investors. But this is changing as confidence and understanding of the market grows and disposable incomes increase. Kathryn Wells reports from Moscow.

BUYING A SMALL chain of internet cafés might not seem the most obvious way to boost the capitalization of your second-tier clients, but this is the route that Russian brokerage firm Antanta Capital has taken.

In September it paid an undisclosed amount for two Netcity outlets in central Moscow. It has since revealed plans to turn the cafés into centres for share trading, hoping to entice passers-by in to browse the prices of some of the country’s lesser-known stocks, all while sipping a cappuccino.

Antanta, which was set up two years ago, has developed a strategy of focusing on lesser-known stocks rather than competing directly with the more established brokerages that service the blue-chip companies.

And whether you believe that selling shares in Russia’s companies to the man on the street via an internet café is a good idea or not – and some have scoffed at the notion that the country’s nascent middle class will be tempted to participate in this way – the good news is that the pool of potential investors is growing fast.

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