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LSE Scratches Plans for Moscow Office

Just a few years ago, initial public offerings from Russia were all the rage on the London Stock Exchange, as well as its junior index, the AIM, accounting for the City’s chief competitive advantage of listing over Wall Street. Until the new rules were implemented in 2006, any given Russian company could launch an IPO without even having to maintain a website, without an English-language prospectus, and with very lax corporate governance and tax requirements. Christopher Cox once called it a glorified “casino,” and indeed these relaxed system of regulatory arbitrage made it possible for Rosneft to do a listing based on stolen Yukos assets. But as the deal flow from Russia to the LSE has ground to a sudden halt during this economic crisis, the market owners becoming less enthusiastic about their favorite emerging market. Today the Wall Street Journal reports that the LSE has scratched its plans to open an office in Moscow, citing reports that capital-raising activity in the CIS had slumped to its lowest level since 2004.