Forty Russian companies set to conduct IPOs in 2006-2007

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KAZAN, September 11 (RIA Novosti) - More than 40 Russian companies are planning to conduct initial public offerings in 2006-2007, an investment expert said Monday.

Ruben Vardanyan, the Troika Dialog investment group's chairman of the board, said more than 15 Russian companies floated their shares for the first time in 2004-2005, increasing the country's stock market capitalization from $200 billion in 2004 to $700 bln in 2006.

MTS [RTS:MTSS], the largest mobile phone operator in Russia, completed its IPO in 2000 and has been floating its shares on the Russian stock market since 2003. But the real boom on the IPO market began in 2004, with IPOs conducted by Mechel steel group [RTS:SGML] and Sedmoi Continent [RTS: SCON], Russia's biggest retailer.

Rosneft Oil Company held the largest IPO in Russia's corporate history, and the world's fifth biggest, this summer. The state-owned crude producer made a $10.4 billion debut on trading floors in the Russian and British capitals.

"In 2006-2007, we are expecting more than 40 IPOs," Vardanyan told an investment forum.

A number of major Russian companies, including truck maker Kamaz [RTS:KMAZ], steelmaker Severstal [RTS:CHMF], independent natural gas producer Itera and the capital's electricity producer, Mosenergo [RTS:MSNG], recently said they were considering IPO plans.

Unified Energy System [RTS: EESR], Russia's electricity monopoly, hopes to raise $4-6.7 billion during an initial public offering of its five generating companies in November 2006-July 2007, the company's chief executive, Anatoly Chubais, said in July.

Vardanyan said leading investment banks are forecasting a 10-fold growth in Russian GDP by 2050 (from 2005), making Russia one of the top 10 countries with the highest investment attractiveness.

"Russia is in second place after China on the list of countries where foreign investors would like to open representative offices," he said.

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