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Foreign Exchange

Russia: Rouble moves mainstream

Status boosted by the February decisions of EBS to list it on its screens and of Euroclear to accept it as a settlement currency.

The announcement on February 12 by Icap that its spot foreign exchange platform, EBS, had launched rouble trading appears to have been warmly received by most market participants. A day later, Euroclear, the pan-European central securities depositary, said that it would now accept the rouble as a settlement currency.

Asked for his view on EBS’s decision, a senior figure at a major emerging markets player says: "It looks good to me. It should really compress brokerage as the currency makes the shift from NDF (non-deliverable forward) to deliverable."

Igor Souzdaltsev, president of ACI Russia, the FX industry’s trade body, and head of financial institutions at Investsberbank Moscow, adds: "I see it as a very good thing that will strongly support our move for strengthening of the rouble to the level of world’s reserve currency." While Souzdaltsev’s view may be overly optimistic, there is no doubt that FX turnover in Russia is expanding. According to ACI Russia, annual turnover grew from $7.3 trillion in 2005 to $9.5 trillion in 2006.

EBS has made the rouble available for trading against the US dollar with a one-day value date. In a press release, Darryl Hooker, EBS’s emerging markets, developing currencies and precious metals manager, says: "Rouble traders have told us they need access to the electronic global book on one dealing screen and for price, depth and liquidity and for access to trading on the G7 currencies.

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