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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Equity Project Will Link Clearing Centers

A U.S.-funded custodian project for Russian equities will soon link clearing centers in Moscow and St. Petersburg in a move which may be followed by the creation of a Nasdaq-style trading system in Russia, banking sources said Tuesday. The project is aimed at bringing some order to Russia's burgeoning but chaotic stock market, which according to some estimates, could attract as much as $3 billion in foreign investment this year. Most stock purchases are presently done over the counter, with no computer network to link brokers and little financial information available to judge enterprises' performance. Chase Manhattan Bank of the United States is acting as an adviser to the project, undertaken by consultants Deloitte and Touche for Russia's Privatization Committee, the bankers said. The U.S. computer firm Sungard Systems is providing the software for the project, which is funded by the USAID. Under the plan, two clearing centers for share trading have been set up in Moscow and Yekaterinburg. A third one is being considered for Novosibirsk. The clearing center in Moscow is already up and running with about 10 Russian banks and brokerages as members. Settlement, so far on a manual basis, is trading day plus five days. The Moscow clearing center is handling settlements in the shares of newly privatized Russian enterprises ranging from the big Kosmos Hotel to the Krasny Oktyabr sweet factory. It will be computerized by September. Separately, U.S. consultants KPMG Peat Marwick are involved in the creation of another share-clearing center in St. Petersburg, which bankers said will be linked to Moscow electronically by December. "Eventually, all these regional clearing centers will be linked to each other," one banker said. This will be followed by creation of a U.S. Nasdaq-style share trading system in Russia, banking sources added. "The intention at the end of the day is to develop share trading in Russia on an inter-regional basis," a Western consultant involved in the project said. "Part of this project will be the implementation of a trading system ? la Nasdaq." Russia desperately needs a securities infrastructure to regulate its equity markets, where an ambitious privatization campaign has produced thousands of shares but little state policing. Earlier this month, President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree tightening regulations for share issues and requiring companies to provide more financial information. So far, the market has been regulated by several government entities, including the Finance Ministry, the Central Bank, the State Property Committee and the newly created Securities and Exchange Commission, but Western brokers say that none of these entities has done a particularly good job. (Reuters, MT)