Russian jet fighter firm in City PR push

MOSCOW: Irkut Corporation, Russia’s only privately-owned military aircraft manufacturer, has launched a financial PR blitz to encourage international investors to buy into its upcoming listing on the Moscow stock market.

Although the company listing will not have an international element, the 20 per cent stake in Irkut could raise as much as £291m, which would make the offering the largest-ever initial public offering on the Moscow stock exchange.

Irkut’s listing is significant for investors in Russia whose major companies are drawn largely from the oil, gas and utility sectors.

The company is obliged under Russian law to keep a domestic listing for several months before being allowed to sell shares on foreign exchanges.

Irkut’s shares will be traded on Moscow’s RT and Micex exchanges. A London listing is planned for 2005.

Irkut hopes to use the proceeds from the IPO to buy a majority stake in aircraft design firm Yakovlev.

An Irkut spokeswoman said Citigate Dewe Rogerson had been drafted in last week to handle PR around the float.

CDR director David Westover is leading a four-man, London-based team tasked with promoting Irkut to international investors through a financial PR campaign that will emphasise Irkut’s plans to move into the manufacture of non-military aircraft. Westover reports to Irkut press manager Jelena Fedorova.

Irkut makes the Sukhoi range of fighter jets and trainers and is the main supplier of military aircraft to India and China, but is also developing a new plane to fight forest fires.

The company, in which the Russian government holds a significant stake, also makes the Be-200 seaplane, which it is trying to sell to army bosses in China, South Korea, Israel, France and Greece.

The company has a joint venture agreement with Russian aviation company Kaskol to provide components for European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

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