Russian blue chips consider abandoning London for Hong Kong

By bne IntelliNews November 11, 2014

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With East-West relations at rock bottom, Russia's leading blue chip companies are toying with the idea of abandoning the London Stock Exchange as the long preferred venue for listing their shares, and moving to Hong Kong.

In the last month, state-owned oil and gas giants Rosneft and Gazprom, together with privately owned oil producer Lukoil, have all said they are thinking about delisting from the LSE and floating on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange instead and denominating their stocks in Asian currencies, according to comments made by Russia's Economic Development Ministry on November 8.

"The largest Russian companies - Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil - are considering the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as a suitable trading floor to list their securities denominated in Asian currencies (the yuan, the Hong Kong and the Singaporean dollar)," the ministry said in a statement.

The banks are also talking the same game: Russia's state-owned de facto development bank Vnesheconombank says it may launch an affiliate in Hong Kong next year, while retail banking behemoth Sberbank and leading commercial bank Promsvyazbank are also considering opening branches in Hong Kong, the ministry said citing its head Alexei Ulyukayev.

The comments came as Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Beijing at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, where he announced with his counterpart China's President Xi Jinping that the two countries would slowly abandon the dollar and use the yuan in mutual transactions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday.

Both powers are keen to reduce the influence of the US in the global economy and are moving towards trading in their own currencies as part of the slow move to a multipolar world.

"Much attention has been paid to the topic of mutual payments in diverse fields ... in yuans which will help to strengthen the yuan as the region's reserve currency," Peskov said following a meeting held between Putin and Xi, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

Russia's economy minister Ulyukayev also announced this week that Russia was looking at China to replace the US and Europe as an alternative source of finance for Russian projects.

Currently only aluminium giant Rusal is listed in Hong Kong, after it made an IPO in January 2010 that raised $2.24bn.

For their part the Chinese investors in Hong Kong would be keen to see more natural resource companies' listings as their market is almost entire devoid of exposure to these commodity producers.

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