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Mayor looks to lift UK-Russia business and culture

Lord Mayor of London visited to discuss Moscow's futureas an international financial Centre.

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Alderman Roger Gifford was in Moscow to co-chair the fifth meeting of the UK-Russia Joint Liaison Group on Moscow as an International Financial Centre, and held a number of high-level meetings, including with the Governor of the Central Bank, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Deputy Mayor of Moscow. Accompanied by a large business delegation, he spoke at a range of events to significant Russian and British companies, with the focus on three themes: Business, Economics and Culture.

The Lord Mayor visits Moscow annually to promote the UK’s financial and legal services industry, which sees Russia as an important and growing market. For example, the importance of English law for commercial contracts continues to provide significant work for City law firms, of which twelve of the most significant have established offices here, and Russian companies continue to turn to London as a destination for raising capital. Sberbank’s $5.2 billion listing on the London Stock Exchange was London’s largest listing of 2012.

Alderman Gifford spoke about the UK’s expertise at events run by the Association of European Businesses, the London Stock Exchange and a range of the City’s professional bodies. In four speeches he promoted the City’s openness, its strengths as a destination for raising capital, its expertise in understanding and supporting e-commerce firms - a growth sector in Russia - and the quality of its professional bodies, many of which are expanding their membership considerably in Russia. The message he heard in response was clear: while there are challenges in doing business in Russia, the opportunities remain considerable for firms which were well-prepared.

The centrepiece meeting of the UK-Russia Joint Liaison Group on Moscow as an International Financial Centre was co-chaired with former Chief of the Russian presidential administration Alexander Voloshin. The Lord Mayor described the group as a “bridge” which built strong business-to-business links between Moscow and the City, while Mr Voloshin praised the group’s success over the past two and a half years in providing UK expertise to support Moscow’s financial liberalisation. Going forward, they agreed to broaden its collaboration to support the development of long term finance funds in Russia, which could present opportunities for the UK’s pensions, insurance and investment management firms, and to continue dialogue on financial regulation, an area where both sides are seeking to deepen bilateral engagement.

2014 will be the UK-Russia Year of Culture, and the Lord Mayor used his role as a major patron of UK arts to promote this opportunity to deepen collaboration between Moscow and London. In a meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Moscow, Andrei Sharonov, he discussed setting up a cultural collaboration group to develop lasting initiatives, and during a speech to over 200 prominent businessmen at a reception at the Ambassador’s Residence he noted the vital role business played in supporting and developing the arts.

Published 13 June 2013