Regulators pull licence from Russian-owned Ukrainian Exchange

By bne IntelliNews November 18, 2015

Ukraine's national commission on securities and capital market has cancelled the licence of the country's leading stock exchange, only hours after a takeover bid by two local brokerages was announced. The move follows the cancellation of the licence of the second major securities trading platform PFTS in October.

The decision marks an end to Ukraine's leading platforms for securities trading for over a decade, where many fortunes were made during the credit bubble leading up to the 2008 global financial crisis. In the wake of the crisis, both exchanges were acquired by Russia's leading stock exchange Moscow Exchange.

Ukrainian regulators pulled Ukrainian Exchange's licence on November 17, due to ownership of a 43% stake in the exchange by Moscow Exchange. Ukrainian laws prohibit licences being held by Russian companies, citing Russian aggression against Ukraine in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine.

The decision came after an announcement earlier in the day by local Ukrainian brokerages Univer and Dragon Capital that they had reached an agreement to acquire the stake from Moscow Exchange.

Dragon Capital and Univer announced the bid in the morning of November 17, but Dragon pulled out the same afternoon, citing distorted coverage of the deal in the press.

In the evening, the national securities commission announced it would cancel Ukrainian Exchange's licence. However, Univer announced it would not withdraw its bid to acquire 23% of Ukrainian Exchange from Moscow Exchange, in the hope that the regulators would change their decision.

50% plus one share of Ukrainian Exchange belongs to Ukraine's PFTS exchange, the main platform for trading state bonds. However, regulators pulled PFTS licence on October 7, due to majority ownership by Moscow Exchange. PFTS is disputing the decision in court and continues to operate. Prior to the cancellation of the licence, brokerages ICU and Favorit had put in a bid to acquire the exchange.

In a statement on November 17, the national securities commission said it had waited several weeks to receive all the paperwork for the Ukrainian Exchange deal, before taking the decision to pull the licence. 

Ukrainian government officials have spoken previously of plans to set up a national stock exchange holding company.

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