Russia president sees Hong Kong as model for Moscow

17th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday he saw Hong Kong as a model for Moscow, as business chiefs travelling with him signalled a rise in Russian listings in the Chinese financial hub.

Medvedev led a business delegation to the former British colony as he seeks to diversify Russia's economy beyond oil and gas and entice more foreign capital into what he has called a "very bad" domestic investment climate.

"Hong Kong's experience is extremely indicative for us," Medvedev, the first Kremlin chief to visit Hong Kong, told the territory's Chief Executive Donald Tsang in talks on Sunday.

"We must lift excessive administrative barriers -- Hong Kong's experience in this aspect could be used in our country... (and) could also help to establish a global financial centre in Moscow."

Tsang described the the first two listings of Russian firms on Hong Kong's stock exchange -- United Company RUSAL, the world's top aluminium producer, and IRC, an iron ore subsidiary of miner Petropavlovsk, both floated on the bourse last year -- as a "breakthrough".

Yuri Soloviev, president of VTB Capital, the investment banking arm of Russian state bank VTB, said Russian firms were planning to list "billions of dollars (in stocks) this year" on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

"This is one of the most liquid markets globally, and therefore the companies we are representing here will be sufficiently capitalised (as a result of listing)," he told reporters on the sidelines of Medvedev's visit.

He did not name specific companies but said that energy, commodity, transportation and consumer firms were eyeing Hong Kong listings.

Artyom Volynets, general director of RUSAL's holding company EN+, said the Hong Kong listing had "huge significance for us" and other companies in the group were eyeing Hong Kong listings.

"I have recently read a survey: RUSAL has become Russia's most recognisable company in China. The formula is very simple: Russian goods, China's market, Hong Kong capital market, stock market," Volynets said.

Tsang highlighted Hong Kong's fledgling market in yuan-denominated bonds after VTB issued so-called "dim sum" bonds late last year.

"Russian firms can use Hong Kong as a stable and efficient platform to settle... trade in renminbi," Tsang told Medvedev, adding that trade between Russia and Hong Kong grew by a "remarkable" 63 percent last year.

Hong Kong, returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, has for years been ranked among the world's freest places to do business.

Medvedev announced last month that Russia would set up a $10 billion fund in partnership with private equity firms to attract investment, as part of a series of measures aiming to entice overseas capital.

He will also seek to persuade Hong Kong-based investors to take part in the development of a high-tech hub outside Moscow which the Kremlin chief sees as Russia's answer to Silicon Valley, the Kremlin said ahead of his visit.

Medvedev arrived from the southern Chinese island province of Hainan, where he held talks with fellow leaders of top emerging economies China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Russia has sought to align itself more closely with China in recent years as it seeks to unlock new energy markets in Asia. This is Medvedev's third visit to the country since he became president in 2008.

© 2011 AFP

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