Russia's MICEX exchange signed an agreement of intent to buy a controlling stake in RTS, the country's other major trading floor, and the deal will become legally binding by mid-April, the first deputy chairman of the Central Bank said on Tuesday.
Alexei Ulyukayev said the deal valued MICEX at $3.45 billion and RTS at $1.15 billion.
"We are united in our ambition to merge the two trading floors. The first stage of negotiations is over, and today we are signing an agreement of intent to buy the controlling stock in RTS by MICEX," said Ulyukayev, who is also chairman of the MICEX board of directors.
The merger has been part of President Dmitry Medvedev's ambition to turn Moscow into an international financial center. On January 20, he ordered the Central Bank to sell its 29.8% stake in MICEX, which hosts about 70% of the country's share turnover and also holds hard currency trading. RTS shareholders have resisted a merger because of the Central Bank's holding in MICEX.
As of August, the Central Bank's share in MICEX was 37%, and will be reduced to 30% after the merger comes into effect. Ulyukayev said on Tuesday that the Central Bank would withdraw from the capital of the new merged stock exchange within two or three years.
"By June 1 the schedule of the bank's withdrawal will be presented to the government," Ulyukayev said in a reference to the president's instructions.
The procedures on RTS's IPO scheduled for 2011 have been suspended and frozen but they might be resumed if the MICEX-RTS merger fails to come through, said Zhak Der Megredichyan, chairman of the RTS board of directors. Ulyukayev confirmed the information.
The controlling stake in RTS is being sold by five shareholders - Renaissance Capital, Aton, Alfa-Bank, Troika Dialog, and Da Vinci, Megredichyan said.
"At the moment, we are talking about shareholders who control over 50% of RTS shares, and the others we hope will agree with this," Megredichyan said.
MOSCOW, February 1 (RIA Novosti)