Business in Brief

Ivanov Criticizes Glonass

The development of the country's Global Navigation Satellite System, or Glonass, is being blighted by technical and management problems, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday, Interfax reported.

Speaking at a meeting of the Federal Space Agency, Ivanov upbraided managers there for the development failures. He bemoaned the system's imprecision and the fact that it does not yet offer full coverage of Russia's territory.

Glonass is based on technology dating back to the Soviet era. The government has pledged to have full global coverage by the end of 2010. (MT)

Onexim's Nanotech Facility

Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Group will invest $100 million into developing the country's nanotechnology industry, Vedomosti reported Wednesday, in the company's first major, independent project since Prokhorov's split with partner Vladimir Potanin last year.

The money will be spent on the construction of the Staropetrovsky research and development center, the newspaper reported. Nanotechnology is at the forefront of the state's drive to boost the country's flagging high-tech sector. Last week, Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov outlined plans to pump almost $10 billion in the industry. (MT)

Cherkizovsky to Be Closed

Moscow's Cherkizovsky Market, one of the city's largest, will be closed by the end of the year, a city official said Wednesday, Interfax reported.

Nikolai Yevtikhiyev, prefect of the Western Administrative District, said 18,000 square meters of the market's retail space were removed last year and that another 20,000 to 25,000 square meters of space would be closed this year, the news agency reported (MT)

Serbian Leaders to Visit

Serbia's president and prime minister will visit Moscow on Friday to attend the signing of an energy agreement, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

The Kremlin statement did not give any details of the deal, but Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and other officials said Tuesday that the agreement envisioned building a branch of a major natural gas pipeline in Serbia.

It would also include Gazprom acquiring a controlling stake in Serbia's state oil company, NIS. (AP)

New Chelyabinsk Refinery

Quality Energy Petro International agreed to build a $4.5 billion oil refinery and petrochemical plant with the government of the Chelyabinsk region, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Construction of the refinery, with a capacity to process 180,000 barrels per day, will start by the end of 2008, Adel Al Otaiba, chairman of QE Petro, was quoted as saying. (Bloomberg)

Industrial Output Up 6.3%

The country's annual industrial output growth quickened to 6.3 percent in 2007 from 3.9 percent in 2006 because of rapid expansion of the manufacturing sector, the State Statistics Service said Wednesday.

Manufacturing rose 9.3 percent last year, while mining output increased 1.9 percent. "I think this is a good result, which shows that industrial production supports high rates of economic growth," said Natalya Orlova, an analyst at Alfa Bank. (Reuters)

RZD May Borrow $11Bln

Russian Railways might seek to borrow as much as $11 billion in bonds and loans to help fund expansion, a spokeswoman for the company said Wednesday.

The board of Russian Railways, or RZD, will probably approve the sale of as much as $7 billion in bonds with a maturity as long as 30 years, spokeswoman Yelena Kulakova said. RZD will also probably seek to sell 80 billion rubles ($3.2 billion) in three- to seven-year bonds and borrow $1 billion from a group of banks. (Bloomberg)

KM Invest Liquidation

Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Group proposed Deloitte & Touche's Dan Koch to oversee the winding up of an $11 billion holding company jointly owned with fellow billionaire Vladimir Potanin, Onexim said Wednesday.

He was nominated as an independent representative to the liquidation commission for KM Invest, Onexim said. Onexim also proposed Yekaterina Shakhina, while Potanin proposed Andrei Klishas, director of his Interros Holding. (Bloomberg)

VTB to Expand Abroad

DAVOS, Switzerland -- VTB Group, the country's second-biggest bank, will expand its operations to the Arab world and former Soviet states to tap new financing opportunities, CEO Andrei Kostin said Wednesday.

"We are looking with interest at the Arab countries, and in the future we will open a representative office in the Emirates," Kostin said in an interview during the World Economic Forum. He said VTB planned to establish a chain in the former Soviet Union. (Bloomberg)

Gaz de France Eyes TGK-10

PARIS -- Gaz de France is considering bidding for Siberian power generator TGK-10, possibly with partners, the company's director of strategy said Wednesday.

"We are looking at it," Didier Sire said in an interview at an energy conference in Paris. "The question is whether we bid for it and how. Do we go alone or with others?" (Bloomberg)

Rosneft to Raise $2Bln

Rosneft is seeking $2 billion in loans from Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale to refinance debt used to buy the assets of Yukos, two people involved in the deal said.

Rosneft may pay interest of 0.95 percentage points more than the London interbank offered rate on the five-year loan, a banker involved in the deal and another person familiar with the transaction said. (Bloomberg)

St. Pete Port Dispute Ended

St. Petersburg Seaport, owned by billionaire Vladimir Lisin, and the union representing workers at one of three stevedore companies resolved a contract dispute over pay, the port administration said in a statement Wednesday.

The agreement stipulates raises of 10 to 51 percent starting on Feb. 1, the statement said. (Bloomberg)

Naftogaz Wants More Time

LONDON -- Naftogaz Ukrainy, Ukraine's state energy company, asked bondholders for more time to file accounts to avoid defaulting on its $500 million of bonds due in 2009, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Holders of the 8.5 percent note issued in 2004 are to meet on Feb. 6 to vote on giving the company until March 31 to submit its 2006 consolidated accounts, the agency said. (Bloomberg)

Carrefour Store in Tyumen

Carrefour, Europe's biggest retailer, plans to build a store in Tyumen as it expands after entering the country this year, according to a statement on the Tyumen region's web site Wednesday.

The Paris-based company is seeking land for a hypermarket in the city, the local government said. (Bloomberg)