Kick Russian firms off London Stock Exchange! Critics demand action as backlash grows over City’s links to Putin’s oligarch pals
Pressure is mounting on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) to cast out Russian companies as the corporate and financial world turns against the Kremlin.
Politicians and experts said it has a ‘responsibility’ to join other businesses and institutions who have severed ties with the country following the invasion of Ukraine.
Dozens of Russian firms are listed in London, from Roman Abramovich-backed steel company Evraz to energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom, and the country’s biggest bank Sberbank.
Pressure: Politicians and experts said the London Stock Exchange has a ‘responsibility’ to join other businesses and institutions who have already severed ties with Russia
Their value has nosedived, with an index tracking London-traded Russian stocks plunging by £428billion – or 98 per cent – in the last two weeks. Russian lender VTB Bank’s shares have been suspended after UK and US authorities blacklisted its parent company.
But no firms have yet been removed from the ‘Official List’ of stocks overseen by City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) despite many being run by, or having close ties with, oligarchs close to President Putin.
Chris Bryant, an MP on Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said: ‘There is a war of aggression being waged against the people of Ukraine and anything that is directly, indirectly, tangentially or slightly connected with the Russian state regime should be rooted out of British political, economic and cultural life.
‘Anybody who isn’t doing that now is letting down the people of Ukraine. And obviously that applies to the stock exchange, the financial institutions of the UK and to every glass-fronted, plush-carpeted, multi-layered office in the City of London.’
Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith MP said companies should be ‘delisted immediately’ if any suspicions were raised about possible links to Putin, his associates, or their sources of income.
Western nations have rolled out sanctions against Russia, targeting individuals, its central bank and banning certain lenders from the Swift payments system.
Companies taking a stand range from BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil, who have severed their ties with major energy companies, to Airbus, Boeing and JCB.
Others include Apple, Sony, Disney and Warner Bros, car firm Ford, payments groups Mastercard and Visa, and shipping line Maersk.
More sanctions are expected if the warmongering ramps up.
There are two possible avenues – one is to suspend shares, which stops a company being able to trade its stock, the other is to be delisted entirely.
The LSE can suspend shares for a range of reasons and delist stocks on the junior Alternative Investment Market (AIM).
But it cannot unilaterally eject a group from the main market that is also included on the FCA’s ‘Official List’. It is likely that the LSE and FCA would need to reach a joint decision to eject a firm.
City sources said the Treasury may also be able to intervene, but there is no precedent for the current situation.
Bill Browder, a long-time campaigner on Russia who championed anti-corruption law the Magnitsky Act, said: ‘I think there should be total isolation of the Russian government, Russian oligarchs and Russian companies until Russia withdraws from Ukraine and compensates Ukraine for the atrocities and damage it has inflicted.’
Sam Armstrong, of foreign affairs thinktank the Henry Jackson Society, said: ‘The trading of their shares while the war rages on increasingly feels immoral and ethically wrong.’ The LSE and FCA declined to comment.