The fall (and rise?) of the Russian Federation:
Another falling BRIC or a buying opportunity? 

Held on Tuesday, February 10, 2016

With support from Norton Rose Fulbright


  • Peter Tabak (lead economist for Russia, Croatia and Serbia, EBRD)

  • Yves Lemay (head of sovereign risk group, EMEA. Moody’s)

  • Masha Gordon (tenured investor and non-executive board member, Pushkin House)

  • Alex Metherell (head of metals & mining, chemicals & fertilisers, VTB Capital)

  • Simon FT Cox (partner, Norton Rose Fulbright)



In 2014, the World Bank Calculates, Russia’s GDP was about US$1.86 trillion – a bit more than Canada (US$1.79 trillion) and Korea (US$1.41 trillion), but less than Italy (US$2.14 trillion) and Brazil (US$2.35 trillion). And way less than China (US17.42 trillion) or the US (US$17.42 trillion). Since then, of course, the collapse in the oil prices, and the squeeze of US, UN and EU sanctions have combined to his Moscow hard - perhaps slicing as much as 10% of the economic pie.

So, is Putin’s Russia (as many commentators believe) a basket-case in which the rule of law has broken down, in which a brief flirtation with Capitalism has been replaced by Cronyism, and in which there is no light at the end of the economic tunnel? Or is the weakness of the rouble a buying opportunity based on temporary oil prices weakness which will inevitably correct (and possibly over-correct)? I support the weight of market opinion probably adheres to the former (pessimistic) interpretation. But has anyone ever met a stupid Russian?

Either way, I am delighted that we have been able to put together a distinguished panel to take a hard look at Russia’s current problems – and its potential (if any) for foreign investors:

  • Peter Tabak is lead economist for Russia, Croatia and Serbia at the EBRD, where he also worked on financial market development. Before joining the EBRD, he was head of financial stability at the National Bank of Hungary.
  • Yves Lemay is the head of Moody’s sovereign risk group for the EMEA region, covering 60 countries and 20 MDBs. Before joining Moody’s Investors Service, he was the Canadian Finance Minister’s senior representative on Wall St.
  • Alex Metherall leads VTB’s involvement in natural resources. Before joining the bank he was responsible for natural resources and energy advisory work at Dresdner Kleinwort. 
  • Masha Gordon is a tenured investor and non-executive board member of Alrosa, one of the world’s largest diamond mining companies. She spent her investing career at Goldman Sachs Asset Management and PIMCO, where she ran a suite of Emerging Markets products.

In addition we have Simon Cox, a partner at our host, Norton Rose Fulbright, who specialises in securities, M&A and JV projects, particularly in natural resources, and who has worked on a wide range of Russian and other CIS projects.

It is a stellar panel, and an important (if difficult and contentious) subject.