Analysts estimated that at the end of the third quarter of 2013, Russian companies’ free-float stood at $213 billion, including $121 billion of foreign investors’ money. The figures have been supplied by the FactSet research agency.
Some $29 billion worth of stocks are owned by Russian banks, pension funds and insurance companies, with a further $1 billion, according to Investfunds.ru, owned by Russian mutual funds.
Private Russian investors own some 10 percent of free floating shares, analysts believe. The remaining free-float ($42 billion) is divided in a 1:2 ratio between foreign hedge funds and Russian funds that don’t disclose any information about themselves.
One third of investors active in Russia are US funds; another third are funds from continental Europe; and the remaining third are UK funds. The biggest foreign investor (over $5 billion) has turned out to be the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, followed by Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund (about $4.7 billion) and the Oppenheimer fund (with slightly under $3 billion invested in Russian stocks).
Before the 2008-2009 crisis, foreign investors owned about 60 percent of free floating Russian shares.
Experts believe that the fact that a large share of the Russian stock market belongs to foreign investors is a positive sign. It shows that the market is growing. Although at the same time it creates risks of a sudden capital flight.
A rising share of foreign-owned free-float of Russian companies is a consequence not only of an increase in foreign investment but of a drop in Russian players’ investment too. The Kommersant daily estimates, based on Investfunds.ru data, that since the start of 2009, Russian investors have withdrawn nearly $750 million from mutual funds. Simargl Capital director Dmitri Sadovy says that Russian investors have still not overcome the fear caused by the 2008-2009 crash and are therefore reluctant to invest in shares. Their passivity allows non-residents to have such a strong sway over Russian stock market dynamics. “To have a significant influence, domestic investors should own at least 50 percent of the total free float,” Sadovy points out.