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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 14:39 GMT
Reform go-ahead for Russia market
Chart showing upward growth at Russian Stock Exchange
Russian stocks have risen strongly over the past year
Russia's stock market regulator has got backing from the Kremlin for a series of reforms designed to cool down the current boom in share prices.

With Moscow's benchmark RTS having risen 83% over the last year, Oleg Vyugin had warned that prices were now at dangerously unsustainable levels.

His reform strategy includes more pension fund investments and extra safeguards against insider trading.

Analysts said Moscow wanted more stable markets ahead of future privatisations.

Foreign concerns

Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Alfa-Bank in Moscow, pointed to the planned privatisation of oil firm Rosneft later this year.

"Right on cue, we're talking about the need to reform the market to create a long-term investor base - and these are precisely the people Russia needs to support the Rosneft IPO [Initial Public Offering]," he said.

Mr Vyugin warned that Russia risked being teamed with those emerging markets where stocks are valued at up to twice the size of the economy, making prices extremely volatile.

"If we fail to change the status quo, we could completely lose our sovereign financial market," Mr Vyugin wrote in Thursday's Vedomosti newspaper.

He added that foreigners were put off buying and selling stocks in Russia because of the lack of a centralised depositary and clearing system.

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