* Russia urges companies to consider re-listing in Moscow
* Premium listings have not justified expectations - banker
* Polyus shares down 1 pct, lag FTSE Gold Mines Index (Adds context, reaction from banker and analyst)
MOSCOW, April 9 (Reuters) - Russia’s biggest gold miner Polyus Gold is considering delisting from London, Kommersant newspaper said on Wednesday, which would make it the first Russian company to heed a call by officials to bring assets home to survive Western sanctions.
Russian firms have long sought listings in London to boost liquidity in their shares, expand their shareholder base and gain prestige, but since annexing Ukraine’s Crimea region, Moscow has urged them to re-list at home to avoid sanctions.
Polyus, a Jersey-registered firm with assets in Russia and a premium listing in London, plans to discuss the possible delisting at the next meeting of its board of directors, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.
Polyus, part-owned by businessman Suleiman Kerimov, declined to comment on whether it could delist from London or change its domicile from Jersey.
Its shares were down 1.0 percent at 199.75 pence on Wednesday, compared with a 2.0 percent rise in the FTSE Gold Mines Index.
Other companies will probably consider relisting in Moscow after failing to see increased liquidity and because of the many requirements that come with having an overseas listing, said an investment banker, who asked not to be named.
“I think it’s not related to politics or not directly related,” the banker said, adding that the premium listings had not “justified the expectations” of companies.
More than 10 of Russia’s leading companies are registered abroad, most led by the country’s richest tycoons.
Apart from Polyus, Russian gold and silver producer Polymetal and steelmaker Evraz have premium listings in London, under which firms are expected to meet the UK’s highest standards of regulation and corporate governance.
In a conference call following the release of Evraz’s 2013 financial results on Wednesday, chief executive Alexander Frolov said the company would look into the issue.
“We need time to analyse the situation. What’s more, we have fairly significant foreign assets and we need to accurately look out for the interests of all stakeholders,” Frolov said in answer to a question about delisting.
Polymetal said it was not considering delisting from London.
On Tuesday, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov urged companies listed on foreign stock exchanges to consider relisting in Moscow to protect themselves from sanctions imposed by the West over Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
His remarks were the latest in a campaign backed by President Vladimir Putin to encourage politicians and businessmen to return from the “offshore shadows” and stop spiriting cash out of the country to boost a flagging economy.
But the advice could serve to add to concerns of “Russia risks” for investors, analysts of Nomura said in a note.
“There is nothing substantial from a regulation perspective, and no actual impact but we do see this as being a part of the enhanced ‘risking’ for Russian companies post Ukraine,” they said. (Reporting by Polina Devitt, Olga Popova, Alessandra Prentice and Svetlana Burmistrova; Additional reporting by Megan Davies; Editing by Elizabeth Piper and Mark Potter)