July 5, 2018 / 11:09 AM / 9 months ago

Moscow Exchange says foreigners' market share back near pre-crisis levels

MOSCOW, July 5 (Reuters) - Foreigners have almost restored their share on Russia’s stock market to levels seen before their mass exodus in 2014, the year when relations between Moscow and the West worsened markedly, head of Moscow Exchange said on Thursday.

Foreign investors ditched Russian assets in 2014 on the back of economic and financial sanctions that the West imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis. Since then some foreign players have decided to return, however.

Non-residents currently hold around $80 billion worth of Russian stocks, having partially regained their share that dropped to $50 billion in 2015, Moscow Exchange CEO Alexander Afanasiev said.

“Before the sanctions, at the end of 2013, foreigners accounted for around $85 billion-$86 billion of Russia’s (stocks) free-float,” Afanasiev said, speaking at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

The Russian stock market took a hit in 2014 and well into 2015 as the sanctions along with a rapid drop in oil prices stung, plunging the economy into two-year recession and sending the rouble to record lows.

Afanasiev said companies from the United States increased their share on the Russian stock market to around 56 percent in 2018 from 38 percent seen in 2013.

The share of British investors on the Russian stock remained above 20 percent, Afanasiev said.

Afanasiev’s comments come after a deep sell-off on the Russian market that was sparked in early April by another set of U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Since then, the rouble-based MOEX stock index has almost bounced back to where it was before the latest sanctions, while the dollar-denominated RTS is still some 7 percent below levels of late March. (Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya, writing by Denis Pinchuk; editing by Andrey Ostroukh/Mark Heinrich)

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