British Telecom Seeks to Make Mark With a Financial Service

British Telecom announced plans Monday to make its mark on Russia's tight telecoms market by launching its Radianz system, a global financial hub that connects more than 10,000 companies.

The system will allow institutions and trading platforms in Russia to connect directly with financial groups around the world, said BT's Russia chief, Richard van Wageningen.

"The Radianz community allows Russian banks, traders and brokers to ... to compete with Western banks by being able to use the same tools," van Wageningen said.

He declined to say how much it would cost to deploy the system in Russia.

In 2004, BT paid Reuters $175 million to acquire Radianz, an Internet, intranet and communications technology provider to financial institutions.

British Telecom has been selling services in Russia for 14 years but only opened a representative office in Moscow in 2006, when it decided to adopt a more aggressive approach toward Russia.

Analysts said the financial services technology is a saving grace for BT, which could otherwise have a hard time competing in the country's tight telecoms market. "The telecoms market is highly competitive, and Russian players are aggressive," said Sergei Vafin, an analyst with IFC Metropol. "This makes it an uphill task for newcomers like BT to compete in a purely telecom services environment."

Van Wageningen said Radianz would further stimulate international trading by connecting corporations and banks to a single financial community: "In the past, the ability to connect to Russia's market participants has presented operational challenges involving complex installations and significant investment."

Van Wageningen said his company was in the process of connecting hundreds of bank branches to the Reuters information service -- the key information provider for the system.

BT currently has more than 260 corporate customers in Russia.