On June 20, sunflower oil producer ViOil became the latest in a long line of Ukrainian firms that either have or are looking to list their shares on a foreign bourse, with Warsaw and London the preferred destinations. The limitations of the local stock exchange mean this trend is expected to continue and even pick up.
ViOil's IPO of new shares on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, due to be completed in mid-July, is expected to raise at least $140m, which it will use to fund its attempt to capture a greater share of the global sunflower oil export market than the 4% it currently holds. Credit Suisse is running the offering, which will target both retail and institutional investors in Poland as well as international investors.
It's this greater access to capital, of course, that's driving these companies westwards. Since 1995, Ukrainian companies have raised more than $4bn in equity capital on international stock markets. "We believe this trend is driven by solid capital resources available on international markets, which are limited to certain exchanges and their respective regulations," says analysts at Kyiv-based Phoenix Capital.
While many see the local Ukrainian market as having bright prospects in general, the domestic stock market currently has little room to provide new listings with decent liquidity, while uncertainty over Ukraine's investment climate is still hurting international investor interest. At the same time, the existing equity on the domestic market is narrowing as major private shareholders buy back shares from the market. "As a result, we see that there will be fewer investment ideas on the domestic stock market, while more Ukrainian stories will be emerging on foreign exchanges," Phoenix says, adding that it expects this trend to pick up, while domestically listed stocks, such as DNEN, AZGM and MZVM, risk fading away.