Business in Brief

Inflation May Exceed 12%



Inflation may exceed 12 percent this year, said Economic Development and Trade Minister Elvira Nabiullina, Interfax reported Wednesday.

There is a small chance that the government will be able to contain inflation within the Economic Development and Trade Ministry's latest forecast of an annual 12 percent rate, Nabiullina said, the news service reported. (Bloomberg)




$16Bln for St. Pete Metro



ST. PETERSBURG -- St. Petersburg plans to invest 400 billion rubles ($16.2 billion) to expand its metro, said Vladimir Garyugin, head of the city's metro, the St. Petersburg edition of Kommersant reported Wednesday.

The money from local and federal budgets will be spent over 13 years under a plan being considered by City Hall, the paper said. (Bloomberg)




Car Imports to Rise by 43%



Car imports will probably increase 43 percent by 2010, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry's chief forecaster said Wednesday.

The country will import about 2 million cars by 2010, compared with 1.4 million vehicles this year, Andrei Klepach said during a conference at the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (Bloomberg)




Gazprom Ads Push Tower



ST. PETERSBURG -- Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of natural gas producer Gazprom, began television advertisements in St. Petersburg to gain support for a skyscraper it plans to build near the city center, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

The campaign will try to counter opposition from local politicians and UNESCO to the 67-floor skyscraper by featuring "prominent" city residents in the ads, said Alexander Dybal, a Gazprom Neft vice president, Vedomosti reported. (Bloomberg)




8% Increase in TNP Fees



Transnefteprodukt won approval to raise fees as much as 7.7 percent in 2008 after the crude oil pipeline monopoly secured a bigger increase last week.

The Federal Tariffs Service endorsed the decision to raise the fees for shipping oil products from Jan. 1 at a meeting Tuesday, the regulator said in a statement on its web site Wednesday. (Bloomberg)




Alrosa Wins Angola Permit



Alrosa, the world's second-largest diamond miner, won Russia's first license to explore for oil and natural gas in Angola, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Alrosa will explore for oil and gas with state-run Angolan producers Sonangol and Dark Oil, Alrosa said. The companies will operate offshore and in Angola's Lower Congo, Upper Kwanza and other regions. (Bloomberg)




Ukraine Gas Pipe Repaired



LONDON -- Ukraine's natural gas grid operator resumed flows of the fuel through a pipeline carrying Russian supplies to Europe after an explosion disrupted shipments Dec. 6.

The Urengoi-Pomary-Uzhgorod high-pressure pipeline was started Monday, the Ukrainian mission to the European Union said Wednesday in a statement. Ukraine made up for the reduced flows during the shutdown by increasing pressure on other pipes and pumping gas out of stocks, it said. (Bloomberg)




Blavatnik's Comstar Stake



Billionaire Len Blavatnik paid $322.2 million for an 11.06 percent stake in Comstar United Telesystems, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's telecommunications company, the operator said Wednesday.

A unit of Blavatnik's Access Industries exercised its call option to purchase 46.2 million Comstar shares for $6.97 each, the operator said. (Bloomberg)




Uralkhim Seeks 2008 IPO



United Chemical Uralkhim, a Russian producer of ammonia and nitrogen, plans an initial public offering next fall, Kommersant said Wednesday, citing an unidentified person familiar with the company's plans.

Uralkhim recently completed the consolidation of its assets and expects revenue of $700 million this year from sales of 3.6 million tons of minerals, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)




Bank Profit Nearly Doubled



Bank St. Petersburg, which held an initial public offering last month, said in a statement Wednesday that nine-month profit almost doubled.

Net income advanced to 1.4 billion rubles ($56.6 million) in the period from a year earlier, the bank said. Third-quarter profit reached 600 million rubles, the lender said, without giving any comparative figures. The bank, which has 32 branches, raised $270 million in a November sale. (Bloomberg)




Russia Sees WTO in Q3



Russia expects to join the World Trade Organization in the third quarter of next year after more than a decade of negotiations, said Andrei Kushnirenko, the country's deputy chief negotiator, Wednesday. (Bloomberg)