Business in Brief

Mitvol Gets New Boss

The government appointed Vladimir Kirillov the new head of the Natural Resources Ministry's environmental inspectorate, RIA-Novosti reported Tuesday.

Kirillov, a former deputy governor of the Leningrad region, which surrounds St. Petersburg, replaces Sergei Sai, the news service said, citing a government statement.

President Vladimir Putin has used the Federal Service for the Inspection of Natural Resources Use to pressure foreign companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, into giving up control of oil and gas projects deemed strategic by the Kremlin. (Bloomberg)

Bonds Raise $37Bln in 2007

Russian companies sold $37.1 billion in bonds to international investors in 2007, mostly in the first half of the year, 40.5 percent more than in 2006, Kommersant said Tuesday.

As a global debt market slowdown in the second half of 2007 made it harder to raise money abroad through new bond issues, Russian companies turned to loans, borrowing $68.3 billion last year, nearly twice as much as in 2006, the newspaper said, citing a report by the Cbonds agency. (Bloomberg)

Banking Assets Rise 43%

Banking assets grew 43 percent last year to 20.09 trillion rubles ($814 billion), Gennady Melikyan, deputy chairman of the Central Bank, said Tuesday.

Growth in banking assets slowed from a pace of 44.1 percent in the previous year, said Melikyan, citing the Central Bank's preliminary calculations.

"So far, we don't see this as a threatening situation," he said.

Credits and loans to nonfinancial organizations soared 50 percent, while credits and loans to individuals rose 57 percent. (Bloomberg)

Rosbank Assets at $21Bln

Rosbank, which is being bought by Societe Generale, said Tuesday that the value of its assets grew 35 percent last year to 510.9 billion rubles ($20.6 billion), according to Russian accounting standards.

Pretax profit declined 4 percent to 5.63 billion rubles, the Moscow-based lender said in a statement without giving more details. (Bloomberg)

CB Pledges to Bolster Ruble

The Central Bank will support the stability of the ruble against other currencies to prevent it from weakening, Interfax reported Tuesday.

The banking system will not be seriously affected by tightening global credit markets, said Central Bank deputy head Konstantin Korishchenko, the news service reported. (Bloomberg)

Transneft, Sovcomflot Deal

Transneft agreed with Sovcomflot to develop new export routes and terminals, the country's largest shipowner said Tuesday.

The two state-controlled companies will cooperate on exports along planned routes such as the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, which will carry Russian crude across Bulgaria to the Greek coast, a second Baltic oil pipeline and the East Siberian-Pacific Ocean link, Sovcomflot said. (Bloomberg)

EDF Bids for OGK-1

PARIS -- Electricite de France, Europe's largest power producer, has made an offer to buy OGK-1, the largest remaining Russian electrical producer for sale, La Tribune reported Tuesday, without saying where it got the information.

Unified Energy System plans to complete the sale of 75 percent of OGK-1 for about 4.8 billion euros ($6.9 billion) next month, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

TGK-2 Output Up 3.4%

ST. PETERSBURG -- TGK-2, the power supplier in the northwestern part of the country that plans to sell shares in March, boosted output 3.4 percent last year to take advantage of higher prices, the company said Tuesday.

Output rose to 10.2 billion kilowatt hours in the period, TGK-2 said. The company plans to sell as much as 39 percent of its stock at an auction in March. (Bloomberg)

Norilsk Hit With Price Cap

Norilsk Nickel should not sell nickel domestically at more than 3 percent over the benchmark London Metal Exchange price, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said Monday.

Norilsk also cannot increase the end-price for Russian consumers, which includes transport costs, by more than 5 percent a month, the service said. The sales terms apply to unrefined nickel. (Bloomberg)

Mechel Appoints CFO

Mechel, the steel and coal producer controlled by billionaire Igor Zyuzin, appointed Stanislav Ploshchenko as its chief financial officer, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Ploshchenko, 31, has been acting CFO since June after replacing Anton Vishanenko, Mechel said. Ploshchenko joined Mechel from Commerzbank in June 2006 and served as Mechel's deputy chief financial officer and deputy treasurer for corporate lending. (Bloomberg)

Nutritek Names CEO

Nutritek Group, the country's largest baby-food company, named vice president Oleg Ochinsky as chief executive to succeed Gennady Popov, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Popov has resigned, the company said. Ochinsky has managed its marketing and sales for six years, Nutritek said. (Bloomberg)

Belon Posts 37% Gain

Belon, a coal producer and metals trader part-owned by Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works, increased coal output by 37 percent last year, less than it forecast in December, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The miner produced 4.65 million tons of coal, of which 2 million tons was coking coal, which is used in steelmaking, Novosibirsk-based Belon said. The rest was thermal coal used in power plants. (Bloomberg)

Wheat Harvest Up 9.8%

The country harvested 9.8 percent more wheat last year as it sowed more land and crop yields improved, the Ministry of Agriculture said Tuesday.

Farmers harvested 49.4 million tons compared with 45 million tons a year earlier, the ministry said. The rye harvest jumped 30 percent to 3.9 million tons. Farmers also produced 4 million tons of corn, the most in 18 years, the ministry said. The total grain harvest rose 4 percent to 81.8 million tons, the ministry said. (Bloomberg)

Kaliningrad Gambling Zone

ST. PETERSBURG -- Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov approved the creation of a special gambling zone Monday in Kaliningrad, the country's westernmost exclave, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

The planned 400-hectare area will be the second of four casino zones to be created in Russia by July 2009 as part of a government campaign to curb gambling, the newspaper said, citing official documents. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine Blocks Extraction

KIEV -- UkrGazEnergo, a gas trader part-owned by Gazprom, will not explore or extract fuel in Ukraine's Black Sea, Kommersant-Ukraine reported Tuesday, citing a statement from the trader.

Chornomornaftogaz, Ukraine's state-controlled fuel company operating in the region, broke an agreement with UkrGazEnergo on exploring two fields on the Black Sea shelf, the newspaper said. The annulment is in line with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's drive to eliminate Gazprom's trader from the Ukrainian market, Kommersant-Ukraine said. (Bloomberg)

Pipeline to China Starts

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan's oil-pipeline monopoly started to ship Russian crude through its Atasu-Alashankou link to China, KazTransOil, the crude-shipping unit of state-run KazMunaiGaz, said Tuesday in a statement.

The pipeline will carry 300,000 tons of oil from Omsk to Alashankou, on the China-Kazakhstan border, in the first quarter, KazTransOil said, and plans to transport 51,100 tons of oil from TNK-BP Holding and 50,000 tons from Gazprom Neft this month, it said. (Bloomberg)

Spyker in the Black Soon

AMSTERDAM -- Spyker Cars will become profitable within the next three years, said Vladimir Antonov, majority shareholder and member of the supervisory board, Het Financieele Dagblad reported Tuesday.

The company will start to make progress this year after investing 34.5 million euros ($49.8 million), Antonov said, the Dutch newspaper reported. The company is also considering selling cars in Russia, he was cited by the newspaper as saying. (Bloomberg)