Business in Brief

Oil Refinery to Be Shared

Gazprom Neft agreed to jointly manage the Moscow Oil Refinery with Sibir Energy, the company said Thursday.

Gazprom Neft and Sibir will make management decisions on basic development questions and key personnel decisions together, St. Petersburg-based Gazprom Neft said. Sibir and Gazprom Neft, which have fought over control of the Moscow Oil Refinery, are also considering merging some assets, Gazprom Neft said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Seeks Larger Share

Gazprom aims to capture as much as 15 percent of the British commercial and industrial gas market in five years as the company expands its European trading business, Philip Dewhurst, spokesman for local unit Gazprom Marketing & Trading, said Thursday.

Gazprom has a single-digit percentage share of the British market and no foothold in its residential gas market, Dewhurst said. "If we could get 10 to 15 percent of the commercial market, we'd be pleased with that.'' (Bloomberg)

Turkmens Deny Reduction

Turkmenistan denied decreasing natural gas shipments to Russia after Gazprom said it had pumped additional Russian gas to Ukraine's exclusive supplier, compensating for reduced deliveries from Central Asia.

"Turkmenistan is meeting its obligations in full,'' the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on, a web site used by the country's government to respond to information in the Russian media. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom to Reduce Gas

Gazprom plans to reduce the amount of fuel TNK-BP can ship from a west Siberian unit this year, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

Rospan International, a TNK-BP unit, will be allowed to ship 1.2 billion cubic meters of gas through Gazprom's network, down from 1.5 bcm last year, Vedomosti said, citing an unidentified Gazprom official.

Gazprom said it did not have sufficient room in the system for Rospan's gas, although the it gas company agreed to accept more than 3 bcm in 2006 as cold weather boosted demand, the newspaper reported, citing an unidentified TNK-BP official. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil to Expand Port

LUKoil plans to expand the capacity of the Vysotsk export terminal on the Baltic Sea to make it one of the biggest in Russia, RIA-Novosti reported Thursday.

Capacity may be increased from 12 million tons to 16 million tons, chief executive Vagit Alekperov said, the news service reported. (Bloomberg)

OGK-5 May Sell New Shares

OGK-5, a wholesale power generator part-owned by Enel, Italy's largest utility, may sell new shares in 2008, two years after its initial public offering.

The electricity company's board will review by May the plan to sell stock in the second half of this year, Anatoly Bushin, chief executive of OGK-5, said in comments related by spokesman Sergei Karaulov. The proceeds would partly finance OGK-5's plans to add generation capacity by 2013. (Bloomberg)

OGK-3 Boosts Production

OGK-3, a power producer controlled by Norilsk Nickel, increased output 4.9 percent last year, more than twice national demand growth.

The generator, which runs power plants near the Moscow region, in west Siberia, and in the Urals, produced 32.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2007, OGK-3 said. (Bloomberg)

Polyus Gold Chief Critized

Polyus Gold billionaire co-owner Vladimir Potanin said Thursday that the management of the country's biggest gold producer was acting without shareholder approval and that levels of corporate governance were below international standards.

Chief executive Yevgeny Ivanov and his management team have made the decision to exclude "a number of substantial assets from the company's books, without taking into account the opinion of all shareholders," Interros Holding, Potanin's investment company, said a statement. (Bloomberg)

Evraz Completes Steel Offer

Evraz Group, a steelmaker part-owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich, completed an offer to buy Claymont Steel Holdings and owns 93.4 percent of the U.S. company, Evraz said in a statement Thursday.

Evraz offered $23.50 for each Claymont share, it said. (Bloomberg)

Magnitororsk's Output Up

Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works said Thursday that its crude-steel production advanced 6.5 percent in 2007.

The steelmaker increased output to 13.3 million tons, from 12.5 million tons a year earlier, the Magnitogorsk, Urals-based company said in a statement. Pig-iron production fell 2.6 percent to 9.48 million tons, from 9.73 million tons in 2006. (Bloomberg)

MICEX Hits $1.27 Trillion

Equity trading on the MICEX more than doubled to 30.9 trillion rubles ($1.27 trillion) in 2007, the exchange said Thursday.

The average value of stock changing hands was 124.7 billion rubles per trading day, the exchange said. Gazprom was the most-traded stock on the exchange. (Bloomberg)

SEC Sues Russian Trader

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued a Russian trader for allegedly hacking into Internet brokerage accounts in 2006 to trade securities at a profit.

Anatoly Russ stole passwords and accessed customer accounts, using them to buy options contracts from his own account at inflated prices, the SEC said in a statement announcing its lawsuit at federal court in Manhattan Thursday. The trades allegedly reaped $88,500 in illegal profits, while leaving brokerage clients with $340,000 in losses. (Bloomberg)

Surplus Likely Hit $70Bln

The government's 2007 budget surplus probably reached 1.78 trillion rubles ($70 billion), the Finance Ministry said in a statement Thursday, citing preliminary calculations.

The surplus narrowed from a record 2 trillion rubles in 2006 to reach 5.5 percent of gross domestic product, the Finance Ministry said. (Bloomberg)

Reserves Rise to Record

Foreign currency and gold reserves rose to a record $477.7 billion in the second week of January, the Central Bank said Thursday.

The value of the reserves increased by $1.1 billion in the week ended January 11, after gaining $2.6 billion in the previous week, the Central Bank said. (Bloomberg)

VTB's Profit Up 20 to 25%

VTB Group's 2007 profit was 20 to 25 percent higher than the year earlier, chief executive Andrei Kostin said, Interfax reported Thursday.

The company showed record growth rates last year, Kostin said at a meeting Thursday with President Vladimir Putin, the news agency reported. Kostin said VTB planned to expand its investment banking business. (Bloomberg)

Flextronics to Open Plant

ST. PETERSBURG -- Flextronics International plans to open a manufacturing plant near St. Petersburg, Kommersant said Thursday, citing the local government's economic policy official.

The local authorities will sign an agreement with the Singapore-based company in January or February, the newspaper reported. (Bloomberg)

Magnit Sales Rise $3.68Bln

Magnit, the country's second-largest supermarket chain, said Thursday that its sales rose 47 percent last year as it added new stores.

Sales advanced to $3.68 billion from $2.5 billion in 2006, Magnit said. The retailer added 304 outlets last year, raising the total count to 2,197. (Bloomberg)

Peugeot, Mitsubishi in Talks

VIGO, Spain -- Peugeot Citro?n said it will decide by June whether to team up with Mitsubishi Motors or a Russian company to build its new plant.

Peugeot is in talks with the Japanese carmaker as well as one or two potential Russian partners for the plant in Kaluga, chief financial officer Isabel Marey-Semper said. (Bloomberg)

Georgia to Issue Rail Shares

Georgia is considering a plan to issue shares in its rail network, which links oil producers on the Caspian Sea with European markets, the country's minister for economic reforms said Thursday.

Kakha Bendukidze said the government favored an IPO as a means to attract investment to Georgia's rail network. He gave no details of the possible size or timing of a share issue. (Reuters)