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"We would just get lost in the crowd if we tried to list in New York or London."

So says Artem Bektemirov, head of 36.6, a fast-growing, 40-outlet Moscow pharmacy chain. Bektemirov is eyeing the Moscow International Currency Exchange rather than the big bourses for 36.6's IPO. Not much chance of getting lost at Micex: The exchange boasts a dozen official listees.

Named for the body's natural Celsius temperature, four-year-old 36.6 would be only the second company to raise money on a Russian stock exchange. The other is RBC Information Systems, a small news and information tech company that listed on the small-cap Rus-sian Trading System last April, raising $13 million.

Russian state-owned and private companies have customarily made their shares available in chaotic over-the-counter markets where prospectuses and audited accounts are as rare as portraits of Karl Marx.

Trained as an economist at Moscow's prestigious Institute for Foreign Relations, Bektemirov, 33, hopes to raise $30 million to build new stores. His company's annual sales total $100.6 million; 36.6 is Russia's first brand-name pharmacy chain.

"We hope a landmark initial public offering, done with full, Western-style disclosure on the domestic market, will attract the kind of attention from long-term international investors that we are looking for," says Bektemirov.

Sources close to him say the deal could arrive early this year.