Business in Brief

Sibir Unit Given Deadline

Sibir Energy said Thursday that it was given 10 months by the country's environmental watchdog agency to fix environmental and licensing infractions at its Magma oil-production unit.

Magma, accused by the agency of violations on Feb. 11, "will complete the remedial action" in time, London-listed oil explorer Sibir said in a statement.

Magma was also issued "administrative fines" of 70,000 rubles ($2,800), Sibir said in the statement. (Bloomberg)

Norilsk Palladium Estimate

Norilsk Nickel, the world's biggest producer of palladium, said Thursday that it had increased its output forecast for the precious metal this year.

Palladium production will probably reach 3.02 million to 3.07 million ounces, or 94 to 96 tons, the company said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Bank to Invest in Sakhalin

SEOUL, South Korea -- Woori Bank, a unit of South Korea's third-largest financial services company by market value, plans to invest in the construction of roads, buildings and resources projects on Sakhalin island.

Woori signed a preliminary agreement with the Sakhalin provincial government Thursday that named it an investor and financial adviser, the lender said. (Bloomberg)

Ust-Luga Port May Sell 20%

ST. PETERSBURG -- The country's Baltic port of Ust-Luga may sell shares representing as much as 20 percent of the company in two to three years, chairman Valery Izrailit said Thursday, RBC daily reported.

Ust-Luga expects to become the country's biggest port, increasing cargo turnover more than fivefold to 36 million tons per year by the time it holds the share sale, the paper said. (Bloomberg)

Vodka Maker Plans IPO

Alkogolniye Zavody Gross, maker of Slavyanskaya and Russian Diamond vodka, plans an initial public offering, possibly by late next year, president and co-owner Alexander Bezuglov said, Kommersant reported Thursday.

The company will merge its distilleries into one entity and may sell shares at the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

EU Trade Chief Optimistic

BRUSSELS -- European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said Thursday that there had been "good progress" in talks aimed at Russian membership in the World Trade Organization.

"We have made good progress in recent weeks in resolving outstanding problems," Mandelson said in a statement. "With political will on both sides, I believe that negotiations can be completed quickly." (Bloomberg)

VTB Buys Sawmill Stake

VTB Group, the country's second-biggest bank, bought a stake in Ruukki Group Oyj to help the Finnish company build a sawmill and cellulose plant in the Kostroma region, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

VTB bought 10 percent of Ruukki for 76.9 million euros ($112 million) from Procomex SA, the news paper said, citing VTB and Ruukki executives. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service gave LUKoil permission to buy Russneft's Grand gas station chain, the service said, RIA-Novosti reported Thursday. (MT)

Belarussian Potash, the potash trader of Belarus and Uralkali won a Sri Lankan tender with a record price for the soil nutrient of $550 per ton, the company said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Kazakhstan's state-owned railroad said Thursday that it was studying whether to build a plant that would make 2,000 freight cars per year as part of its 888 billion tenge ($7.4 billion) investment program. (Bloomberg)

Indian natural gas distributor GAIL said Thursday that it was planning to set up ventures with Itera Group to sell the fuel to households and build chemical plants in Russia. (Bloomberg)

Commerzbank is interested in buying a controlling stake in Belarus' Belinvestbank, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing an unidentified banker. (Bloomberg)