Alfa expands in hope of Russian revival

In a clear indication of its global ambitions, Russia's Alfa-Bank has received full FSA accreditation for its UK subsidiary, Alfa Securities. It is the bank's first license outside the CIS and is ? precursor to the addition of a New York license some time next year.

Pyotr Aven, president of the bank, says that Alfa Securities' role will eventually be expanded to incorporate asset management services and strategic investment advice. “Alfa-Bank is committed to expanding its image worldwide,” explains Simon Roache, joint managing director of Alfa Securities in London. “Now it the right time to position ourselves to attract investors from Europe.''

Roache admits that it is difficult to forecast the; level of business that Alfa can hope to attract. “There has been little investment activity as Putin is still new and people are still figuring out his intentions,” he says. He predicts, however, that there will be an increase in investment in the third and fourth quarters this year as confidence begins to rise. “A lot of emerging market funds are under-weight Russia and there will also be interest from private equity investors as valuations are so cheap,” he says. For example, the enterprise valuation per barrel of oil of Russian oil companies is around $0.3 to $0.6 per barrel, whereas for companies such as ?P, Shell and Exxon it is $12 to $13 a barrel.

Alfa Securities will be building up its team in London, and is now in the process of hiring. It is now looking for a for a total of six to eight staff covering equity sales and corporate finance/asset management and hopes to double this number when volumes increase. “We combine Russian background and ownership with a western skill set and are the only Russian bank to do so,” claims Roache.

Also this month, Clariden Russia Equity Fund appointed Svetlana Le Gall as investment advisor. She was deputy investment advisor and replaces Andreas Keller.