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Shoes, Metal Right for Hong Kong

Local firms with synergies are ripe for listing on the Hong Kong bourse. Jerome Favre

Russian companies that export commodities to China or import Chinese-made shoes and clothes are the best candidates to float their shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Hong Kong-based investor Sergio Men said Monday.

"It would be absolutely irrational for companies whose business is totally unrelated to China or Southeast Asia to move toward the Hong Kong stock exchange," Men, who is managing partner at Eurasia Capital Partners, told reporters.

In agreement with that statement, Oleg Deripaska's aluminum company RusAl was the first Russian company to list its stock in Hong Kong in January of last year, while Tsentrobuv — which bills itself as the country's largest shoe retailer — said in February that it was considering a share offer there next year.

One of the earliest Russian companies that expressed interest in floating in Hong Kong was Deripaska's Strikeforce Mining & Resources. It scheduled the listing for fall 2008 but canceled when the crisis hit. The company delayed the IPO again last year.

A source close to Strikeforce said Monday that an IPO was no longer a priority because the company was looking to diversify its business and form alliances with strategic partners first.

The strategy of Strikeforce's parent company, En+, says all its units should eventually offer shares to the public, but an En+ spokesman said it didn't comment on IPO prospects of its specific companies.

Eurasia Capital is sponsoring the second Russia Capital Raising and Investment Summit in Hong Kong next month.

Organized by two regional business publications owned by Haymarket Publishing, the largest United Kingdom private publisher, the event aims to bring together Russian executives and investors from around Southeast Asia, including China, India and Korea.

Men said he thinks that Sportmaster, one of the country's largest retail chains of sporting goods, would eventually offer its stock to investors in Hong Kong. Sportmaster could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

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