DR News: The Russians Are Coming, Eventually, To London


by Gordon Platt

Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, plans to list global depositary receipts (GDRs) in London and Frankfurt soon, with BNY Mellon as the depository. The listings could make Sberbank one of the most widely traded Russian DRs, rivaling Gazprom.

Later this year or early next year, Sberbank is expected to raise as much as $8.8 billion in a partial privatization. Foreign investors already own more than one-third of the company’s shares, and it will be much more convenient for them to hold DRs.

Meanwhile, a number of companies based in Russia are preparing to launch IPOs, mainly in London. High oil prices and Russia’s fast-growing economy could help to lure investors, who have given an icy reception to a number of Russian IPOs this year. At least five issues were withdrawn as market conditions worsened amid the political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.

Giving Russian companies hope of a warmer reception was the success of Russian search engine Yandex, which went public on Nasdaq on May 24. Yandex raised $1.3 billion in its New York IPO, and its share price jumped 55% in its first day of trading.

London has long been the market of choice for Russia-based companies, particularly those active in natural resources. In April, Nomos, a midsize Russian bank, raised $718 million in London and Moscow. Global Ports Investments, a Russian ports operator, plans to raise $750 million. As Global Finance went to press, PhosAgro, the world’s second largest maker of phosphate fertilizers, was seeking to raise between $500 million and $1 billion in a London-and-Moscow IPO.