Business in Brief

Sberbank Seeks $7Bln

Sberbank, the country's largest bank, seeks to raise about $7 billion by selling Global Depositary Receipts in London, said the bank's deputy chief executive officer, Bella Zlatkis, RIA-Novosti reported.

Zlatkis said during a conference call with investors Monday that the bank viewed the second half of this year as a "favorable" time for the GDR sale. She declined to discuss the timing of the sale in more detail, the news service said. Sberbank postponed plans to sell shares in London by June because of the situation on global markets. (Bloomberg)

Kuznetsov Joins Sberbank

Stanislav Kuznetsov, a deputy economic development and trade minister, is joining Sberbank, a ministry source told Interfax on Monday.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov has accepted Kuznetsov's resignation, the government's press office said Monday, the news agency reported. The ministry source said it was not known what position Kuznetsov would take at the bank.

Kuznetsov had been a deputy minister since April 2007 and is rejoining former Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref, who became Sberbank chairman last year. (MT)

3 New Highland Directors

Roman Abramovich and his business partners appointed three directors to the nine-person board of Highland Gold, in which he owns a 40 percent stake.

Millhouse, based in Moscow and owned by Abramovich and his co-investors, appointed Eugene Shvidler, Eugene Tenenbaum and Olga Pokrovskaya to the board, the miner said Monday in a statement.

They will replace chief executive Henry Horne and chief financial officer Scott Perry, who is leaving the company, Highland Gold said. (Bloomberg)

GAZ to Produce Siber Sedan

ST. PETERSBURG -- GAZ, the country's second-largest automaker, will start the production of the Siber sedan, a model based on Chrysler's Sebring, on March 28, Vedomosti reported Monday.

The Nizhny Novgorod-based company purchased manufacturing equipment previously used for the Chrysler Sebring in 2006 and invested $150 million to set up an assembly line in Russia, GAZ President Leonid Dolgov told the newspaper in an interview.

GAZ will keep the first 500 cars for company use and training its personnel, Vedomosti reported. The Siber, priced from $18,000 to $25,000, will go on sale in June. (Bloomberg)

New MTS Ukraine Chief

KIEV -- Mobile TeleSystems, Russia's largest mobile phone company, appointed Andrei Dubovskov as chief executive of its Ukrainian unit.

Dubovskov, 41, replaces Pavel Pavlovsky, who is taking a post at parent company Sistema, MTS said Monday. Dubovskov was head of MTS' Ural unit from 2004 to 2006 and became first deputy CEO at MTS Ukraine in December, the statement said. (Bloomberg)

Russian Market 'Resilient'

Economic Development and Trade Minister Elvira Nabiullina said a booming consumer market and rising investments would protect the country from the effects of problems in the U.S. subprime mortgage market.

Nabiullina said her ministry might raise its estimate for economic growth last year to between 7.7 percent and 7.8 percent from 7.6 percent after the economy expanded 8.4 percent in December.

The economy is strong enough "to allow us to hope that Russian markets will be resilient to the world financial crisis," Nabiullina told President Vladimir Putin at a government meeting Monday, according to a transcript posted on the Kremlin web site.

"In general, the trend is positive. This, of course, contrasts with what is happening on the world markets. Consumer optimism is supporting our economy." (Bloomberg)

VimpelCom's Golden Plan

VimpelCom, the country's second-largest mobile phone operator, will not interfere in the plans of Golden Telecom, which it is buying for $4.3 billion, VimpelCom chief executive Alexander Izosimov said Monday.

"The goal of the deal is to optimize investment and speed up lines of business," Izosimov said in an interview in Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum. "They are doing a good job, with the right margin. Therefore, we will support them and help them rather than change anything or actively interfere."

VimpelCom wants to buy Golden Telecom, a fixed-line phone company, to create the country's first integrated mobile and fixed-line provider. Golden Telecom will give VimpelCom more than $1 billion in additional annual revenue, about 400,000 new broadband Internet customers and a foothold in fixed-line services. (Bloomberg)

Georgia's Trade Deficit Up

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia's trade deficit widened in 2007 as higher energy costs pushed up the value of imports.

The annual shortfall totaled $4 billion, compared with $2.7 billion in the year-earlier period, the country's statistics department said Monday in an e-mailed statement.

The value of all goods traded rose 40 percent to $6.5 billion, with exports led by ferroalloys increasing 33 percent, and imports led by crude oil and natural gas gaining 42 percent, the department said. (Bloomberg)

Uzbek Gas Back to Kazakhs

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Uzbekistan resumed full supplies of natural gas to Kazakhstan's south after "emergency negotiations," state-owned KazTransGaz said Monday.

The talks were held by Gazprom, Uzbekistan's Uzbekneftegaz and KazTransGaz, the country's gas-pipeline monopoly.

Uzbekistan cut shipments by 40 percent in December because of cold weather in Central Asia, KazTransGaz said in a statement Monday. The companies then agreed to arrange additional supplies of 100 million cubic meters of Uzbek gas after negotiations on Jan. 17 and 18, KazTransGaz, a unit of state oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz, said without elaborating. (Bloomberg)

Carousel Revenue Doubled

Carousel, a superstore chain that may be bought by X5 Retail Group, said revenue more than doubled in 2007 as shoppers were lured away from open markets.

Sales rose 130 percent to $831 million, the St. Petersburg-based company said Monday in an e-mailed statement, without providing year-earlier figures. Same-store sales advanced by 23 percent in the fourth quarter, the statement shows. (Bloomberg)

Kopeika Sales Climb 53%

Supermarket chain Kopeika said Monday that sales climbed 53 percent last year on new store openings.

Revenue advanced to $1.49 billion in dollar terms, Kopeika said in an e-mailed statement, without giving sales for the previous year. The figure does not include value-added taxes paid by consumers. Kopeika opened 119 stores in the period and had 438 at the start of the year. (Bloomberg)