Business in Brief

Oil Fund to Rise to $157Bln



The country's oil fund will rise to $157.1 billion by the end of the year, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said at a news conference broadcast on Vesti-24.

The stabilization fund will total 3.84 trillion rubles as of Jan. 1, Kudrin said, 5 percent higher than the 3.65 trillion rubles reported by the ministry at the end of October. (Bloomberg)




SUEK May Be Worth $8Bln



Siberian Coal Energy is worth $6 billion to $8 billion, Kommersant reported Wednesday, citing a valuation from Deloitte & Touche.

The closely held miner's planned joint venture with Gazprom may be valued at as much as $16 billion, Kommersant said. Gazprom will review Deloitte & Touche's recommendations in December, while shareholders of the mining company, which is also known as SUEK, may approve the venture as early as next month, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)




Gazprom Neft's $2Bln Loan



Gazprom Neft borrowed $2.2 billion from a group of foreign banks to boost production and refining, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Gazprom Neft will pay 75 basis points more than the London interbank offered rate for the three-year loan, the company said. Citigroup and Commerzbank are among 16 lenders. (Bloomberg)




$17Bln Technologies Sales



Russian Technologies may report sales of $15 billion to $17 billion in 2008 to 2009, RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday, citing chief executive Sergei Chemezov.

Russpetsstal, a steel unit of the newly formed state-run corporation, may have sales of $1.5 billion, Chemezov said, the news agency reported. (Bloomberg)




RusAl to Build Foil Plant



United Company RusAl plans to expand foil packaging operations with a new plant outside Moscow, the company said Wednesday in a statement.

The company will build a $20 million plant in Dmitrov, near the capital, which will have a capacity of 20,000 tons per year, RusAl said. The plant will increase RusAl's share of the domestic foil-packaging market to as much as 66 percent, it said. (Bloomberg)




Urals Energy Reserves Up



Urals Energy doubled its reserves after agreeing to buy as much as 39.5 percent of Russian explorer Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha, Urals Energy said in a statement Wednesday.

The acquisition adds more than 272 million barrels of proved and probable oil reserves, the company said. (Bloomberg)




TransCreditBank Gets Loan



TransCreditBank, the lending unit of rail monopoly Russian Railways, plans to borrow 50 billion rubles ($2 billion) in 2008, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing chairman Sergei Pugachyov.

The lender took a two-year loan for $87.5 million in October to finance leasing operations and foreign trade, the news service said, without providing any more details of the bank's borrowing plans. (Bloomberg)




Naspers Raises Mail.ru Stake



Naspers Limited, Africa's largest media company, raised its stake in Mail.ru to 33 percent in a deal that values the web portal at $1 billion, the Cape Town-based company announced Tuesday.

Naspers bought 2.6 percent of Mail.ru for $26 million last month, the company said. Naspers paid $165 million for 30 percent of Mail.ru in January. (Bloomberg)




Enel in Asset Swap Talks



ROME -- Enel is in talks with Gazprom about potential asset swaps, Enel chairman Piero Gnudi said Wednesday.

No decision has been reached yet on which assets Gazprom will take, Gnudi said. Enel is offering Gazprom minority stakes in power plants in Italy, Enel chief executive Fulvio Conti said this month. Enel, Gazprom and Eni will also share Arctic Gas, in which the Italian companies will split a 49 percent stake, Gazprom deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)




Belarus Plans Eurobond Sale



LONDON -- Belarus, whose leaders are banned from traveling to the United States and the EU, plans to sell its first eurobond to lure international investors before the end of the year, said Nadezhda Ermakova, chairwoman of Belarusbank, the country's biggest lender, Wednesday.

Nomura Holdings, Japan's largest securities firm, is advising Belarus on the $260 million sale. (Bloomberg)




Urals Hits 8-Week Low



LONDON -- Urals crude fell to the lowest in eight weeks relative to benchmark prices in northwestern Europe as an increase in December exports boosted supplies.

The cost of a cargo of Urals crude for delivery in northwest Europe was at a discount of $3.20 to Wednesday, compared with a discount of $3.10 Tuesday, according to Bloomberg data. (Bloomberg)




MegaFon to Use Nokia Tech



LONDON -- Nokia said MegaFon would start using its software for a wireless e-mail service, Nokia said Wednesday in a statement.

MegaFon will offer mobile e-mails on Nokia's E90 Communicator and E61i devices designed for corporate use, the Finland-based company said. The service, called MegaSync, is based on Nokia's Intellisync software, which can be used in over 100 handsets. No financial details were disclosed. (Bloomberg)




36.6 Posts 9-Month Loss



Pharmacy Chain 36.6 reported a nine-month loss on costs to expand outside the capital, the company said Wednesday.

The net loss of $41.9 million compares with a year-earlier profit of $41.5 million, the company said. Sales surged 70 percent to $591 million. The company, which had 1,029 pharmacies at the end of September, has set goals of expanding to 1,450 outlets this year and adding 500 more in 2008. (Bloomberg)




Inflation to Follow $100 Oil



The country will earn $800 million a day if oil prices hit $100 a barrel, stoking inflation that could "kill off" economic growth, UralSib bank said.

"For Russia's investment case, the optimum oil price per barrel is around $75," UralSib chief strategist Chris Weafer wrote in an e-mailed note to investors. "Higher revenues that translate into higher spending levels will push the inflation rate much higher."(Bloomberg)

Evraz Raised by Moody's

Evraz Group, a steelmaker part-owned by Roman Abramovich, had its credit rating raised by Moody's Investors Service after the company refinanced debt and improved profitability.

Moody's raised the corporate family rating for Evraz to Ba2, two levels below investment grade, from Ba3, the company said. (Bloomberg)