Lenta: Retail Giant Plots London Listing

(c) Sky News 2013

One of Russia's biggest retailers is plotting a listing in London even as concerns grow about corporate governance standards at eastern European companies which seek investor credibility by raising capital in the City of London (LSE: CIN.L - news) .

Sky News understands that Lenta, a hypermarkets group employing nearly 20,000 people, has begun preparing for a listing of Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) in London that would be designed to raise around $1.5bn (£1bn).

Lenta, which is majority-owned by TPG Capital, the private equity firm, is interviewing investment banks in London this week to work on the listing, according to insiders.

The GDR listing, which involves the issuance of a certificate by a bank which has acquired the underlying shares of a company, would be one of the largest such moves for some time.

TPG took control of Lenta in the summer of 2011 in partnership with VTB Capital, the Russian bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The buyout group, which in Britain has owned companies such as Debenhams (Other OTC: DBHSY - news) , the department store group, was previously locked in an ownership battle with August Meyer, Lenta's then-biggest shareholder.

The retailer, which operates nearly 60 stores across Russia, has been touted in the past as a potential takeover target for multinational retailers such as Carrefour (Paris: FR0000120172 - news) , the French group, and Wal-Mart, the American owner of Asda.

Assuming it proceeds with the GDR listing, Lenta would be the latest emerging markets company to seek access to the City's capital-raising prowess.

Last year, Megafon, the Russian mobile phone group, listed in London, while a number of businesses from neighbouring Kazakhstan have - at times controversially - also listed in London.

Corporate governance problems have beset companies such as ENRC, the Kazakh-based mining group, which has been one of the factors prompting listing authorities in the UK to re-examine the standards by which public companies must abide.

A spokesman for TPG declined to comment.