UniCredit sells stake in Moscow stock exchange

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), a $10bn Russian government-sponsored fund, and global private equity firm Cartesian Capital Group have bought stakes in the Moscow Exchange MICEX-RTS from Italian banking group UniCredit.

Following the completion of the deal, RDIF will own 2.7%, and Cartesian 2.5%. UniCredit remains one of the largest shareholders in the group, with a 6.2% share. RDIF has already invested in the MICEX-RTS exchange once in the past, together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The aim of the investment is to boost the development of the Russian capital market and raise the attractiveness of the Russian stock exchange as a platform for local and international companies.

Peter Yu, managing partner at Cartesian, said: “The MICEX-RTS plays a key role in the development of Russia into a global financial centre and has great potential to issue an initial public offering (IPO).”

Last month RDIF formed a consortium with BlackRock Investment Management, Templeton Asset Management and the Goldman Sachs European Special Situations Group to help Russian companies through the pre-IPO process. Its goal is to invest in Russian companies with an annual turnover of $500m or more that plan to place their equity on the Russian stock exchange in the next 6-18 months.

Following the formation of the group, RDIF signed a co-financing agreement with the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) to make joint investments in Russian companies at the pre-IPO stage.

It has also formed the Russia-China Investment Fund (RCIF) with the China Investment Corporation (CIC), initially seeded with $1bn from each side, with the plan to double the total size of the fund to $4bn. The assets will be invested in Russian companies at 70%, with the remainder in Chinese enterprises.

The RDIF was formed last April to invest in leading Russian companies in high-growth sectors together with foreign investors. It is a full subsidiary of Russian state bank Vnesheconombank, and as such offers security to international investors.

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