Financial services firm Freedom Holding considers Moscow listing after Nasdaq debut

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Freedom Holding Corp FRHC.O, a financial services firm focussed on East Europe and Central Asia, is considering a Moscow listing, after its shares began trading on New York's Nasdaq.

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Shares in Freedom Holding Corp initially climbed more than 2% before easing back to trade flat on its Nasdaq debut on Tuesday at $14.15, its closing price on the OTCQX exchange where it was listed since July 2018.

Timur Turlov, Freedom Holding Corp’s 31-year-old founder and chief executive, told Reuters his company was considering a rouble-denominated listing on the Moscow Exchange. “I hope it will happen this year,” he said in his Moscow office.

Turlov said the company had taken five years to prepare for the Nasdaq listing to broaden its investor base.

“We are getting on the radar of a large group of investors who do not work with a company that is not listed,” he said.

A Moscow listing would put the firm’s shares in Russia’s small-cap indexes Russel 2000 or 3000, putting the company “into the sight of investors who are looking at our region,” he said.

The firm’s Kazakh unit, Freedom Finance, is one of the biggest and most active brokerages in Kazakhstan.

The company also became a major investor in Kazakh mobile operator Kcell KCEL.KZ last year, building up a stake of more than 10% through open market purchases.

It halved that investment to about 5% before the Nasdaq listing. Turlov said the shares were sold at a profit.

Freedom Finance is now setting up a subsidiary in Kazakhstan’s Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC). It has also been active in neighboring Uzbekistan.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Edmund Blair