Business in Brief

November Inflow $3Bln



Net capital inflow reached $3 billion in November, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Monday.

Capital inflow hit $11 billion in October, after the country registered net capital outflow in August and September, he said. Net capital inflow will reach between $75 billion and $80 billion this year, Kudrin said. (Bloomberg)




Gazprom Gets Libya Permit



TRIPOLI, Libya -- Libya, the holder of Africa's largest oil reserves, gave Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell permits to explore for natural gas, as the North African nation seeks to increase fuel exports to Europe to meet rising demand.

Libya auctioned on Sunday in Tripoli exploration permits in the central, western and southern desert, in its first licensing round in potentially gas-rich areas. Gazprom joined Shell, Europe's largest oil company, Algeria's Sonatrach and Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo of Poland in winning four of 12 licenses on offer. (Bloomberg)




Zubkov's Pipeline Promise



BUDAPEST -- Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov promised his Hungarian counterpart, Ferenc Gyurcsany, that the South Stream gas pipeline would reach Hungary, Nepszabadsag reported Monday, citing a news conference given by the two leaders.

Hungary currently has only one gas supplier and needs to find another to eliminate risk, Gyurcsany said, according to Nepszabadsag. Gyurcsany said Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi had contacted Hungary about the South Stream plan, Nepszabadsag said. (Bloomberg)




TNK-BP's $2Bln Pipe Deal



TNK-BP agreed to buy $2 billion of pipes from TMK during the next five years, TMK said in a statement Monday.

TNK-BP and TMK extended a three-year contract for pipes valued at $500 million, TMK said. (Bloomberg)




GAZ to Buy Tractor Plant



KIEV -- GAZ, a maker of trucks, cars and spare parts for vehicles owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, will purchase a 90 percent stake in Ukrainian tractor plant Khrakivskyi, Kommersant Ukraine newspaper reported Monday, citing people familiar with the acquisition.

GAZ will pay $100 million for the company, the newspaper reported. GAZ will produce machines for road construction, Kommersant said, citing a source. (Bloomberg)




VTB Acquires Copper Stake



VTB Group acquired half of Armenia's second-largest copper deposit, chief executive Andrei Kostin said, Interfax reported Monday.

VTB will get 50 percent of Tekhut, the Armenian Copper Program unit developing the Tekhutskovo copper and molybdenum field, in exchange for a $257 million loan, Kostin said, according to the news service. VTB will earn interest on the 12-year credit, as well as part of the profit, Interfax said, without providing more details. (Bloomberg)




Severstal Has Celtic Offer



Severstal said in a statement Monday that it had offers from investors controlling 81.1 percent of the shares of Celtic Resources Holdings that it was bidding for and that the offer was now unconditional. (Bloomberg)




Ford Resumes 2nd Shift



Ford resumed the second of three shifts at its Russian factory, where striking workers halted production last month, spokeswoman Yekaterina Kulinenko said in a statement Monday.

The factory, near St. Petersburg, turned out 300 cars per day before more than 1,500 employees went on strike over wages and working conditions on Nov. 20 for the second time that month. Ford resumed one-shift production Nov. 28. (Bloomberg)




European Chevy Sales Up



BERLIN -- General Motors said Monday that eleven-month European sales increased, boosted by purchases of Chevrolet autos in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Sales rose to 2 million vehicles, beating the total for the whole of 2006, the company said. Chevrolet led the advance with sales advancing 32 percent in the period. (Bloomberg)




RBC Raises $187M



RBC Information Systems, owner of the only Russian-language television business channel, said Monday that it raised 4.58 billion rubles ($187 million) to finance growth.

RBC, whose business also includes newspapers, magazines and online advertising, sold 20.7 million ordinary shares, which represent a 14.8 percent equity increase on a post-offering basis, the company said. (Bloomberg)




Blavatnik Into Comstar



Billionaire Len Blavatnik will pay $322.2 million for a 11.06 percent stake in Comstar United TeleSystems, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's telecommunications company, the operator said Monday in a statement.

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




Smarts Silent on Buyout



Smarts, a mobile phone company based in Samara, declined on Monday to comment on media reports that VimpelCom offered to buy it for $550 million.

Smarts is in talks with VimpelCom, Vedomosti reported Monday, citing Smarts chairman and main shareholder Gennady Kiryushin. VimpelCom wants to buy Smarts for $500 million to $550 million, the Interfax reported last week. (Bloomberg)




Tele2 Awarded 14 Licenses



STOCKHOLM -- Tele2, Sweden's second-biggest telephone company, was awarded 14 phone licenses in Russia, the Stockholm-based company said Monday in a statement.

Including four licenses awarded last month, Tele2 will cover 34 regions with a total population of about 60 million in Russia, the company said. (Bloomberg)




Faulty Goods Law Amended



Consumers will be able to return defective goods more easily under an amended law that takes effect Wednesday, Vedomosti reported Monday.

The legislation protecting consumer rights will enable shoppers to return cars, household appliances or computers with any defects, the newspaper said.

The current law permits only returns of goods with "significant" defects, Vedomosti reported. (Bloomberg)




Kazakhs' WTO Talks



ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan hopes to finalize talks on its accession to the World Trade Organization as soon as next year, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Monday.

Kazakh talks have been held back several times since the Central Asian nation initiated the process in the 1990s. Kazakhstan had previously said it hoped to join the global trading club before the end of this year. (Reuters)