Ultimate ownership and control in Russia
I investigate ultimate control and ownership patterns in Russian publicly traded companies. I show that these companies are controlled either by the state or by anonymous private owners. Federal and regional governments' control is exercised through extensive use of pyramids. Private owners widely exploit legal loopholes that allow them to mask their holdings and identities through nominee and foreign offshore arrangements. The comparison of formal and informal ownership disclosure reveals that the typical anonymous owners are insiders and that in virtually all cases the market participants "know" who the real owners are. Collectively, the evidence suggests that the legal weaknesses in disclosure requirements are important determinants of country-specific ownership and control structures.
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