Russia’s SPB Exchange denies it has filed for bankruptcy

By Elena Fabrichnaya and Alexander Marrow

MOSCOW (Reuters) -SPB Exchange, Russia’s second-largest bourse that specialises in trading foreign shares, on Monday denied that it had filed for bankruptcy, a few weeks after the exchange was targeted with U.S. sanctions that caused a trading suspension.

Arbitration court filings appeared to show that the exchange had filed for bankruptcy, sending its Moscow-listed shares at one point to a record low, down more than 30% on the day.

“SPB Exchange has not filed documents for bankruptcy,” the bourse’s press service said. “SPB Exchange has a stable financial position and there are no signs of bankruptcy.”

By 0833 GMT, its shares had recovered slightly to trade down about 11% on the day.

Two separate case filings, both dated Nov. 24, were first picked up by Russian media on Monday. SPB appeared as a defendant in both cases. In one case, no claimant is listed, but the court describes the filings as an “insolvency (bankruptcy) of organisations and citizens.”

Reuters was not immediately able to download the court documents.

Yevgeny Kogan, a professor at Russia’s Higher School of Economics, said it was concerning that SPB had not provided a full explanation of the court filings.

“It is quite possible that this is a technical error, but it is still very important and necessary to wait for firm and clear statements about what is happening,” Kogan said.

SPB did not provide additional comment when contacted by Reuters.

The central bank said it would check whether there had been any market manipulation and reminded investors that their funds would not be at risk if the exchange were to go bankrupt as they are held in a separate entity’s account.

The exchange this month said it has sought international legal advice on how to transfer shares and payments to investors after sanctions, which also forced it to tweak its strategy to focus on settlements in roubles.

The U.S. Treasury in early November targeted SPB as part of sweeping new measures that also aim to curb Russia’s future energy capabilities and sanctions evasion.

(Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya in Moscow and Alexander Marrow in London; Editing by Toby Chopra and Mark Porter)