Russian business still too murky: ratings agency

Telecom companies are the most transparent firms in Russia, according to ratings agency Standard&Poor's. But investors remain unhappy about the level of information about Russian companies listed on the equity markets.

Standard&Poor's says the behaviour of the top ten most transparent companies has changed notably. The biggest change has been in the disclosure of ownership. It is now easier to see who owns a company.

The issues that still worry investors include management contracts, auditing practices and even the question of who the boss is.

The problem is that Russian companies use a different accounting system – and only some produce parallel reports under the widely accepted international accounting standards.

Slow progress on transparency and disclosure remains an important issue for the Russian companies that raise money on the financial markets – even though investors want to know more about the firms they invest in.

Transparency debutantes

For the first time CTC Media, Rosneft and Lukoil have entered the list of most transparent companies.

Russian companies disclose information through three main sources – annual reports, web-based disclosures and public announcements.

Aleksey Rybnikov, head of Moscow’s Micex company, forecast that it will take another five years before Russian firms reach international levels of disclosure.

“Sometimes if you give too much information about yourself, you may become the subject of a hostile attack. This has become less of an issue during recent years, but the memories are still there”, Rybnikov said.