Business in Brief

SocGen's Rosbank Buy

Societe General has closed a deal to buy 30 percent plus two shares of Rosbank, a source close to the agreement told Interfax on Wednesday.

SocGen purchased a 10 percent stake in Rosbank in June 2006 for $317 million, Interfax said. In September they bought another 10 percent and reached an agreement with Interros on an option to purchase 30 percent for $1.7 billion, the news agency said. (MT)

City Center to Remove Ads

Moscow's historic city center should be cleared of outdoor advertising by the end of the year, said Vladimir Makarov, head of the city's advertising committee, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

More than 1,000 billboards and signs will be dismantled around the Kremlin and two other downtown areas, costing their owners $15 million in annual income, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Norilsk Environmental Case

A Krasnoyarsk region court has rejected suits brought by Norilsk Nickel against the country's environmental watchdog over the results of inspections of its Arctic branch, Oleg Mitvol, the agency's deputy head, told Interfax.

Norilsk, which said it would appeal the ruling, is accused of polluting two rivers, Vremya Novostei newspaper said Wednesday. The agency is seeking 4 billion rubles ($162 million) in compensation, the newspaper said. (MT)

Lufthansa Overflight Rights

BERLIN -- Russia has extended airline Deutsche Lufthansa's permission to fly through its airspace along its cargo route to its hub in Kazakhstan, the airline said Wednesday.

The airline, which operates Lufthansa Cargo, has been in a dispute with Russia over the location of its hub, currently in the Kazakh capital. (AP)

Bad Roads Take $73Bln Toll

The country's crumbling roads cost the economy 1.8 trillion rubles ($73 billion) every year, or about 3 percent of gross domestic product, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said, RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday.

This is more than total defense spending, Ivanov as said. (Bloomberg)

21 Million Left in Poverty

The country's poverty rate fell by 3 percentage points in the third quarter last year, leaving 21 million people below the subsistence level, the State Statistics Service said Wednesday.

Fifteen percent of Russians earned less than 3,879 rubles ($157.23) a month in the third quarter of 2007, the service said. (Bloomberg)

Alekperov to Go to Iraq

LUKoil chief executive Vagit Alekperov accepted an invitation to visit Baghdad for talks as Russia's biggest independent oil company seeks to revive a contract to develop one of Iraq's largest oil fields, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Alekperov will hold talks with Iraqi officials about developing West Qurna-2, a spokesman said. (Bloomberg)

Rostelecom to Sell Holding

Rostelecom said Wednesday that it would sell a stake in telecoms provider Golden Telecom to VimpelCom.

Rostelecom said its board had approved tendering its 11 percent stake in Golden Telecom. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

The government's surplus probably reached 10.4 percent of gross domestic product, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

Sitronics chief executive Sergei Aslanyan said Tuesday that the electronics maker's sales would rise at least 20 percent this year. (Bloomberg)

Mechel plans to build a coke plant in India to turn coal from its Siberian deposits into raw materials for India's fast-growing steel sector, a company official said Wednesday. (Reuters)

Azerbaijan's recent natural gas discoveries are unlikely to make the former Soviet republic a major exporter of the fuel to Europe before 2015, a BP official said on Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

Aker Kvaerner, Norway's biggest maker of oil platforms and equipment, said Wednesday that it gained full ownership of Finnish RR Offshore Oy and ended cooperation with its former Russian partner, ST Holdings. (Bloomberg)