Business in Brief

Mechel Net Rises 90%



Mechel, a New York-listed steel and coal producer, said Tuesday that profit soared 90 percent in the first nine months on higher prices.

Net income jumped to $706 million, from $372 million in the same period last year, the company said. Sales gained 48 percent to $4.64 billion. (Bloomberg)




Transneft Seeks 20% Hike



Transneft asked the Federal Tariffs Service for a 20 percent increase in the fee it can charge for shipping oil in 2008, Interfax reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified official.

Much of the increase will go to paying for the East Siberian-Pacific Ocean pipeline, a route Transneft is building to bring Russian crude to Asian markets, the news service reported.

The tariffs service will make a decision on the increase by Dec. 19, Interfax said. (Bloomberg)




Officer to Head Gazflot



Gazprom has picked a security services officer to run its subsidiary, Gazflot, which explores the Arctic shelf and plans to handle shipments of Gazprom's future output of liquefied natural gas.

Yury Shamalov most recently served as a security officer from 1987 to 2007, and previously spent five years in the armed forces, Gazprom said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov declined to say which security service Shamalov came from or whether his duties were associated with the gas industry. Gazflot's previous director, Alexander Mandel, retired, Gazprom said. (MT)




50% More Gas Trading



LONDON -- Electronic Trading Platform-Mezhregiongaz, the country's year-old natural gas exchange, plans to increase volumes next year as producers seek higher prices.

Mezhregiongaz, a unit of gas-export monopoly Gazprom, will raise limits on the amount of gas traded on the platform 50 percent to 15 billion cubic meters, according to a company presentation. Gazprom is allowed to supply half of that fuel, the rest can come from independent producers. (Bloomberg)




Highland Shares Sold



LONDON -- Millhouse, a company owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich and his co-investors, bought 65.1 million new shares of Highland Gold Mining at 151 pence ($2.05) each, the St. Helier, Jersey-based miner said in a statement Tuesday.

Highland said last week that Millhouse agreed to buy 40 percent of the miner. Millhouse will buy another 65.1 million shares, subject to approval at a Highland shareholders meeting in January, the miner said. (Bloomberg)




36.6 Plans $65M Hospital



Pharmacy chain 36.6, the country's largest drugstore company, will open a hospital in Moscow to add to the medical center it already has in the city, Vedomosti reported Tuesday.

The chain acquired a building to house the hospital, which is scheduled to open in a year, said Vladimir Geraskin, deputy chief executive at 36.6, the newspaper reported. The company will spend about $65 million on the hospital, Geraskin said, Vedomosti reported. (Bloomberg)




Trade Surplus Falls 13%



The trade surplus declined 13 percent in the first 10 months of the year compared with the same period in 2006 as economic growth fueled demand for cars and other foreign goods, the Federal Customs Service said Tuesday.

The surplus reached $121.6 billion by the end of October, compared with $139.8 billion in the first 10 months of last year, the customs office said. Exports rose 13 percent from January through October of last year to $278.5 billion, while imports increased 47 percent, the service said. (Bloomberg)




Conversbank Into Fast Cars



AMSTERDAM -- Spyker Cars, a Dutch maker of luxury sports cars, said it started exclusive negotiations with Snoras Group, an affiliate of Russia's Conversbank Financial Group, to refinance the company, Spyker said Tuesday in a statement.

The companies are considering a plan in which Vilnius, Lithuania-based Snoras would redeem a loan in return for a 29.9 percent stake in the carmaker, Spyker said. (Bloomberg)




Intel, Comstar WiMax Deal



Intel, the world's largest maker of computer chips, and Comstar United Telesystems, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's telecommunications company, agreed to develop the first WiMax wireless network in Russia, the companies said Tuesday in a presentation in Moscow. (Bloomberg)




Imedi TV to Return to Air



TBILISI, Georgia -- Imedi, the Georgian television station controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., will resume broadcasting at 8 p.m. Wednesday, more than a month after the government closed it during a state of emergency.

Giorgi Targamadze, head of Imedi's news division, said the firm was completing an inventory of missing and damaged equipment. News Corp. has threatened to sue the government if the equipment is not replaced. (Bloomberg)




Kazakh Pipe Nearly Done



LONDON -- Kazakhstan plans to start building in March the final section of an oil pipeline that will link its Caspian Sea fields with refineries in northwestern China.

KazMunaiGaz National, the state-run energy producer, and China National Petroleum intend to spend $1 billion on building the link between Kenkiyak and Kumkol, which will stretch for 761 kilometers, Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov said in a statement on the government's web site. (Bloomberg)




VimpelCom 3G in Ukraine



KIEV -- VimpelCom got access to high-speed wireless services for its Ukrainian unit, company spokesman Yaroslav Dolgov said, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

VimpelCom's Ukrainian Radio Systems signed a cooperation agreement Monday with Ukraine's national phone company, Ukrtelecom, which has a license for 3G services, said Dolgov, the newspaper reported. (Bloomberg)




Ukraine Power Price Hike



KIEV -- Energoatom, Ukraine's state-owned operator of nuclear power plants, will increase the price for electricity it produces by 72 percent next year, Delo newspaper reported, citing the company's management.

The price will be 15.5 kopeks (3 cents) per kilowatt-hour next year, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)




Ukraine Refinery Goes Light



UkrTatNafta, Ukraine's No. 2 oil refinery, made a larger proportion of light refined products in the first 11 months of 2007 than during the same period last year, the company said Tuesday.

Light products made up 58.3 percent of output, compared with 56.4 percent last year, the firm said. (Bloomberg)