Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Star analyst quits Moscow

Financial News

Jason Corcoran in Moscow

27 March 2007

One of the most highly-rated analysts and strategists in Russia has quit UBS less than four weeks after Ed Kaufman, formerly the Swiss bank's head for the country, left to join a domestic rival.

Al Breach, a managing director in UBS' equity research division in Russia, is taking time out before deciding what to do next. He is rumoured to be considering a number of offers, including working for a hedge fund and a bank in Asia.

His departure comes a month after Kaufman, head of UBS Russia, left to join Alfa Bank as chief executive of its investment banking business.

Breach will remain at UBS until a replacement can be found and trained, possibly until the end of the year to help with the transition.

London-based Vladimir Postolovosky serves as co-head of research for Russia.

Apart from an eight month stint in Japan, Breach has been in Moscow since 1996. He was previously Goldman Sachs' economist for Russia and the former Soviet Union. A Briton, he has also lived in China and worked as fund manager at Rothschild Asset Management in London.

He was this month nominated to the board of directors at Vostok Nafta Investment, a Swedish investor in Russia's oil and gas industry.

One of the leading Western investors in Russian stocks said: "Al knows the Russian economy very well and makes the right calls most of the times. He is going to be hard to replace."

Breach predicted that the market would bounce back strongly from its reversal in late 2004 following the jailing of Yukos chief executive Mikhail Khodorkosky. It did with Russian stocks up 70% in 2005.

The demand for analysts in Moscow has never been higher with many Western top-tier banks expanding and looking to build up their Russian coverage.

Two highly rated analysts at Deutsche UFG, the German bank's Russian investment banking business, quit earlier this month. Stephen O'Sullivan left to head Macquarie Bank's Asian and Japanese research operation, while Gary Jenkins, head of European fundamental credit strategy and one of the most high-profile credit analysts in London, departed for a role at a buyside company.

Independent Russian banks Renaissance Capital and Troika have in recent years overtaken Deutsche UFG and UBS in the analyst league tables.

UBS bought out Brunswick's 50% stake in its Russian joint venture UBS Brunswick in 2004.

Al Breach and UBS declined to comment.