Fiona Le Poidevin, Deputy Chief Executive at Guernsey Finance, speaks to journalist Polina Khoroshilova about the success of the recent delegation to Moscow. Originally published on thewealthnet , 7 June 2011.
A Guernsey delegation has recently returned from a trip to Moscow in high spirits, inspired by "plenty" of potential business opportunities.
Fiona Le Poidevin, deputy chief executive of Guernsey Finance, the promotional agency for the island's finance industry, explained to thewealthnet why the two jurisdictions could work so well together. Firstly, according to Ms Le Poidevin, there already is a solid base for the relationship, so they don't have to start from scratch.
"A lot of Russian businesses and funds investing into Russia are already here. We've got names like Aurora, Prosperity Capital, Ashmore; there is a lot of investment into Russia using Guernsey as a funds jurisdiction," she said.
Guernsey also has a lot to offer when attracting new business from Russia, one of the key advantages being the island's specialism in private equity. Ms Le Poidevin explained that recently there was a survey of chief financial officers (CFOs), and 61 percent of those CFOs said that Guernsey was the jurisdiction of choice for private equity admin.
"We've also done some recent research into the number of listings on the London Stock Exchange, and Guernsey has significantly more listings on the Main Market, AIM and the specialist fund market than our closest competitors, which include Jersey, BVI, Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man," added Ms Le Poidevin.
In addition, Guernsey has recently got approval to list its companies on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which should give the island more exposure for companies looking for Asian investment.
When talking about Russia, it is impossible to ignore the amount of private wealth - Moscow boasts the highest amount of billionaires in the world compared to other cities, and Guernsey has the right structures to support them. "The island is seeing increasing Russian business in the private wealth area, for example trust structures for wealthy Russian individuals," said Ms Le Poidevin.
There is no denying the fact that Russia still has a reputation as a risky place to do business, but Ms Le Poidevin said that today there is a noticeable shift in attitudes. "Investors are often hesitant and end up going elsewhere, but I think our success stories speak for themselves. The hurdles can be overcome, and already have been in quite a lot of cases."
Ms Le Poidevin said that the growing appetite for greater levels of corporate governance is apparent in Moscow.
Facts speak for themselves: Russia's President, Dmitry Medvedev, has finally recognised that the Russian business environment is poor, and he has set a 1 July deadline for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to oust ministers from the boards of large public companies, notoriously famous for their poor governance and lack of transparency.
A Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) is also on Guersney's 'to do list', but there is no specific timetable at present.
Ms Le Poidevin concluded that the two jurisdictions could work very well together, with Guernsey being an established international finance centre with a good reputation easing the way for a maturing Russian economy.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.guernseyfinance.com.
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