Business in Brief

Eurocement to Invest $8Bln

Eurocement Group, which produces nearly 40 percent of all concrete in Russia, will invest $8 billion by 2012 in upgrades and expansion, bringing 2008 production to 27 million tons, Kommersant reported Monday.

The company will spend $5.5 billion to build nine new plants and $2.5 billion to upgrade existing plants in the next five years, allowing the company to increase production by 25 million tons per year, said Filaret Galchev, the company's billionaire chairman, Kommersant reported. (Bloomberg)

Turkey's Gas Supply Secure

ISTANBUL -- Turkey said Monday that it had enough natural gas in storage and through pipelines from Russia and Azerbaijan to meet national consumption, two weeks after Iran shut off exports.

The government does not plan to buy more liquefied natural gas at the present, an Energy Ministry official said. Last week, Turkey bought 80 million cubic meters of Algerian LNG and another 70 million from Nigeria, the official said. (Bloomberg)

Golden Sees Sales of $3Bln

Golden Telecom, the fixed-line phone and Internet provider being bought by VimpelCom for $4.3 billion, forecast annual sales of $3 billion by 2012 on demand for services in Russia and other former Soviet states.

Golden Telecom forecast sales would rise 72 percent by 2012, from $1.75 billion predicted for this year, it said Saturday. The Nasdaq-listed company forecast profit would increase to $364 million from $190 million. The forecasts are based on management's assumptions and have not been examined by a public accounting firm. (Bloomberg)

Telecom Firms Merger

Svyazinvest, the country's national fixed-line phone monopoly, may merge Center Telecom and Central Telegraph to make them a stronger competitor in the domestic broadband Internet market, spokesman Oleg Mikhailov said Monday.

Center Telecom has more than 6.6 million fixed-line subscribers in central Russia outside the Moscow area. The company also provides broadband Internet services to more than 300,000 customers, while Central Telegraph has more than 110,000 subscribers in Moscow. (Bloomberg)

Ruukki Group Faces Delay

HELSINKI -- Ruukki Group, a Finnish holding company that plans to build a sawmill and pulp mill in Russia, said Monday that local government officials delayed a decision on its investments until next month.

The Kostroma regional administration is expected to decide on the company's applications for priority-investor status in February rather than this month as expected, the Ruukki Group said.

The status would allow the company to get woodcutting rights at a 50 percent discount without a public auction being held. (Bloomberg)

UralSib Profit Tumbles 78%

UralSib Financial, the country's second-largest bank not controlled by the government, said 2007 profit plunged 78 percent because of losses in the stock market.

Net income under Russian accounting standards fell to 1.25 billion rubles ($50 million) in 2007 from 5.63 billion rubles a year earlier, the bank said Monday. It attributed the decline in earnings to securities operations and taxes. (Bloomberg)

Novolipetsk Earnings Up

Novolipetsk Steel, the steelmaker controlled by billionaire Vladimir Lisin, said Monday that full-year earnings rose as much as 30 percent on stronger demand and that prices would increase in the first half of 2008.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization likely gained 25 to 30 percent, said NLMK, as the Lipetsk-based Novolipetsk is also known. Steel will climb through June on higher prices for coal and iron ore before a midyear flattening, NLMK said. (Bloomberg)

Novolipetsk's Steel Down

Novolipetsk Steel's crude-steel production declined 0.8 percent last year as it focused more on hot-dip and rolled products, the company said in a statement Monday.

Output fell to 9.06 million tons from 9.13 million tons the previous year, NLMK, as Novolipetsk is also known, said. Pig-iron production was little changed at 9.06 million tons. Crude steel production climbed 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter. (Bloomberg)

Magnezit Buys Slovmag

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Russia's Magnezit Group purchased Slovmag Lubenik, the second-largest Slovak maker of heat-resistant materials, Hospodarske Noviny daily reported, citing people familiar with the transaction.

The purchase will enable the Russian company, which has a two-thirds share of the Russian market in magnesite materials, to increase sales in the European Union, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Aluminum Seen Falling

SHANGHAI -- Aluminum prices may decline for a second straight year on rising global supplies led by China, according to CRU International.

Prices of three-month futures on the London Metal Exchange may average 11 percent lower this year to $2,361 a ton, after falling 14 percent in 2007, Wan Ling, a metals and mining researcher at CRU, said at a Shanghai forum on Jan. 19.

Rising electricity and materials costs will limit the decline, the second loss in six years, she said. (Bloomberg)

Russia, Heat Drive Sales

ISTANBUL -- Anadolu Efes Biracilik & Malt Sanayii, Turkey's largest brewer, said its 2007 sales volume grew 11 percent because of business in Russia and a dry, hot summer.

Anadolu Efes said sales in Russia climbed 20 percent to 10.4 million hectoliters from a year earlier. The company bought Krasny Vostok Brewing Group in February 2006 to become Russia's fourth-largest beer maker. (Bloomberg)

Knight's Head Steps Down

Greg Thain, nonexecutive chairman of Knight SPOO, decided to step down after completing a four-year term, the company reported Monday.

Thain will concentrate on his principal business interest, IMSG, which is a company listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange. During this period, the Knight Frank SPOO business has grown to over 400 staff covering all aspects of the Moscow and wider CIS real estate sector. (MT)

New RusAl Legal Chief

United Company RusAl appointed Kirill Alexandrov as managing director for legal affairs, the company said in a statement Monday.

Alexandrov, who previously worked for SUEK, will help oversee acquisitions and fundraising, RusAl said. (Bloomberg)