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The Russian broker organizing an asset swap scheme that could free up frozen funds for Russian and foreign investors would consider unblocking around $500-million worth of funds a good result, its head told Reuters on Friday.

Moscow presents the plan as a way for both Russian and foreign investors to free up assets that have been blocked by Western sanctions and Russian counter-measures since the start of the conflict in Ukraine more than two years ago.

Under the swap deal, foreign investors would have the opportunity to use funds frozen in Russia to buy the assets of Russian companies that have been immobilized in Europe – and vice versa.

No specific targets have been set, but Alexey Sedushkin, CEO of Investitsionnaya Palata (Investment Chamber), the broker appointed by the finance ministry to run the scheme, told Reuters he hoped that at least half of the broker’s clients would participate.

“If we talk about figures, these are our subjective, approximate estimates, that potentially individuals could submit for the redemption of securities in the range of 30-50 billion roubles,” Sedushkin said.

“I would say that a positive scenario is if we end up in the range of 40-50 billion roubles ($430-$537-million),” he said.

Sedushkin said the scheme was a way for foreign investors to effectively exchange currency risk for market risk, with Western regulators needing to ultimately give approval before assets could be transferred.

“In Russia, these securities will be free from capital restrictions,” Sedushkin said. “Most importantly, this is a chance for foreigners to reduce their exposure to Russia, to Russian assets, which is important to many.”

Up to 50 per cent of the broker’s clients have already submitted applications, Sedushkin estimated, expecting the picture to become clearer by the May 8 deadline.

Demand from foreigners – tens of billions of roubles from more than 20 foreign institutions, including U.S. funds and banks – is outstripping offers from Russians at present, Sedushkin said.

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