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The View from St Petersburg: Atanas Bostandjiev

With business and economic leaders gathering for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Business RT spoke with Atanas Bostandjiev from VTB Capital, about plans to increase Moscow’s profile as a financial centre.

RT:  Apart from the lack of domestic capital, what else is standing in the way of establishing Moscow as the next global financial center?

AB:“I don’t think actually the issue is domestic capital, I think in Russia, so that is not the issue.  So I believe one of the main challenges are what we have heard here in the Forum as well, is the lack of infrastructure, the legal system in Russia.  I think in essence what needs to be done is to make sure that there is bigger reasons for business to business in Moscow and I think once the government solves this, I think Moscow will become actually a financial centre.”   

RT:  A merger of Russia’s two main stock exchanges is underway. How do you think this will be seen by business leaders and investors?

AB:  “Definitely positive.  I think this is going to make the market more transparent.  It will bring liquidity as well, so I definitely believe it is going to be met with support from the investors and international financial leaders.” 

RT:  What could be done to make Russian capital markets less volatile and less dependent on external cash?

AB:  “I think what needs to be done is for the government to follow with promoting a strong recovery to make sure that actually the economy is on a strong forward path, that inflation is kept under control within the targets of the Central Bank. And once you have a strong economy and inflation under control I think the capital markets will take a positive backwind or tailwind out of this and make sure it will be less volatile.  Also strengthening and improving the legal system.  I think that once that is done as well it will be a contributor.”

RT:  What do you think are the key challenges for Russian financial institutions that are operating abroad?

AB: “That’s what we are being faced with VTB as well.  As you know we are the strongest Russian champion investment bank, so to say, and we have very strong international growth ambitions. To grow our presence in Europe, to grow our presence in Asia as well.  And we are facing all the challenges that other big investment banks are facing when operating abroad from their home markets.”