In its first such move outside the United States, Bank of New York Co. has acquired an equity stake in a Russian company for share registration services.
A spokeswoman for Bank of New York said that the Moscow-based company is expected to be up and running by April. She declined to disclose the exact stake or say how much the bank is investing.
The Reuters news agency reported from Moscow that the registry will likely be capitalized at $10 million and able to handle at least five million shareholders representing 90 to 100 major Russian enterprises.
Other partners in the Moscow-based company are Nikoil, one of the world's biggest oil companies; Unexim Bank, and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. The U.S. bank has also been selected by the Russian Federal Commission on Securities to manage the company.
Bank of New York has been steadily building up its operations in Russia and has correspondent relationships with 250 of the 2,500 commercial banks there.
Its investment in the registry extends its expertise in securities processing and custody to a market which has been plagued by uncertainty over securities ownership since a large-scale privatization program was begun in Russia several years ago.
Confusion over share ownership has worried foreign investors and prompted the Russian government recently to require that any company with more than 1,000 shareholders use an independent firm to register stock ownership.
"We sensed a demand from investors to see a western-managed registry operating in conjunction with Russian companies," said Donald R. Monks, an executive vice president of the bank. "This will help develop a capital markets infrastructure that encourages western investments."
The new share registry company is planning to set up satellite offices in other Russian cities and will also help Russian companies issue American depositary receipts.