Business in Brief

Health Care Reorganization



The Industry and Energy Ministry is working on a plan to reorganize the health care industry to support local producers, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

The measures may include requiring foreign companies to license their products in Russia and a tighter control over their sales, Kommersant said, citing officials working on the plan. (Bloomberg)




Citibank Told to Rehire 6



A Moscow court has ordered Citibank to give six former employees back their jobs, after they filed a suit for unfair dismissal last year against the U.S.-owned bank.

The six employees, who were trying to set up a union, were sacked in December 2006 as part of a wider reorganization, which resulted in the loss of 20 jobs. Citibank has been ordered to pay damages to the six plaintiffs, who returned to their jobs Monday. (MT)




Ministry Safe Until Elections



The government is not planning to liquidate or reorganize the Economic Development and Trade Ministry before the presidential election in March, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin said Tuesday, RIA-Novosti reported.

Speaking on the sidelines of a business conference, Naryshkin dismissed news reports over the past week about the possibility that the ministry's external economic functions would be handed over to a separate agency.

"In my opinion, [the ministry] is a necessary department," Naryshkin said, the news agency reported. (MT)




LUKoil Seeks Russneft Asset



LUKoil applied for anti-monopoly approval to buy billionaire Mikhail Gutseriyev's chain of gas stations in Moscow, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The purchase of the Association Grand outlets from Russneft would add about 100 filling stations to LUKoil's 30, said Dmitry Dolgov, spokesman for the company. (Bloomberg)




Nabucco's One-Year Delay



FRANKFURT -- Nabucco, a pipeline venture to ship natural gas from the Caspian region to Europe, delayed the start of exports by a year, said Bulgarian Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov, Sofia News Agency reported Tuesday.

The pipeline won't start operating until 2013, rather than 2012, the agency said. (Bloomberg)




Nord Stream Alternative



HELSINKI -- Poland, Estonia and Lithuania want to consider an overland gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany instead of Nord Stream's plan to build one under the Baltic Sea, Finland's Economy Ministry said Tuesday.

Finland has insisted that the Nord Stream consortium, which is planning the 1,200-kilometer subsea pipeline, conduct a thorough environmental study of a more southern route. (Reuters)




Chemezov Requests Copper



State-controlled Russian Technologies may seek as much as 49 percent of Mongolia's Erdenet copper producer, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

Russian Technologies chief executive Sergei Chemezov asked the government to contribute Russia's stake in Erdenet to the company, the newspaper said, citing the proposal submitted in December. (Bloomberg)




Gazprom to Prepare Exclave



Gazprom said Tuesday that it planned to prepare the isolated Kaliningrad region for potential disputes with neighboring countries by boosting gas deliveries and storage facility.

Gazprom will increase volumes in a pipeline passing through Belarus and Lithuania, the company said in a statement.

It will also build an underground storage capacity in Russia's westernmost region. (Bloomberg)




Pulkovo Traffic Up 20%



ST. PETERSBURG -- St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport said Tuesday that it handled 20 percent more passengers last year as traffic increased on domestic and international routes.

Pulkovo served 6.1 million people, the highest volume since 1990, as six carriers started services there in 2007, the airport said. (Bloomberg)




Inflation Accelerating



Inflation accelerated in January to its fastest pace in 30 months as oil and gas prices surged, fueling consumer demand, the State Statistics Service said Tuesday.

Consumer prices rose an annual 12.6 percent in January from 11.9 percent in the previous month, the highest since July 2005, the service said. (Bloomberg)




Fire Near Nuclear Station



ST. PETERSBURG -- A fire at a substation near northwestern Russia's primary nuclear power plant left almost 50,000 people without electricity Tuesday, a spokesman for the station said.

The Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, about 80 kilometers from St. Petersburg, was unaffected by the blaze as the damaged facility does not directly feed into the station, spokesman Andrei Bezgulov said. (Bloomberg)




Nanotechnology Sales Plan



The country plans to sell 4 trillion rubles ($163 billion) of nanotechnology products through 2015 as the government spends surplus oil revenue on projects to diversify the economy, the head of the State Nanotechnology Corporation said Tuesday.

The goal is achievable because of support from the state, which will spend at least 200 billion rubles ($8.2 billion) developing nanotechnology over the next five years, chief executive Leonid Melamed said Tuesday. (Bloomberg)




For the Record



The Moscow city government plans to create a holding company that will combine its stakes in three producers of alcoholic beverages, Kommersant reported Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

Telenor said Tuesday that it would sell its shares in fixed-line and Internet provider Golden Telecom to VimpelCom. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom said Tuesday that it planned to sign a "framework agreement" with Schlumberger, the world's largest oil field services provider. (Bloomberg)

Wimm-Bill-Dann plans to sell 11 billion rubles ($447 million) of bonds to help finance acquisitions, Interfax reported Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

Severstal said Tuesday that steel production last year was 17.5 million tons. (Bloomberg)

Russian service industries expanded at the slowest pace in at least six years in January as new business growth declined and confidence in the global economy slumped, VTB Bank Europe said Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

MegaFon said Tuesday that it wanted to win at least 10 percent of mobile advertising revenue in the country next year, a market that may hit $216 million for all operators in 2011. (Bloomberg)