Business in Brief

2 New Economy Ministers

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov made a Kremlin economist deputy economy minister today and promoted the ministry's top macroeconomic forecaster to the same position.

Zubkov signed orders appointing Stanislav Voskresensky and Andrei Klepach, according to statements on the government's web site. Voskresensky worked for President Vladimir Putin's economic adviser, Arkady Dvorkovich. (Bloomberg)

3rd Country in Iran Venture

TEHRAN -- Iran has "reached an agreement with Gazprom to form a joint company with the participation of a third country," Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said, the Shana news agency reported after a meeting Tuesday with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.

Gazprom wants to help Iran develop liquefied natural gas production, Nozari said. (Bloomberg)

$1.8Bln for Greek Hotels

Atlantica Group, a Greek lodging unit of TUI, and Russia's Natalie Tours agreed to spend 1.2 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to build 20 hotels in Greece, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

Atlantica plans to spend 400 million euros, Natalie will invest 200 million euros, and the remaining funds will be borrowed from banks and funds, Vladimir Vorobyov, president of Natalie, told the newspaper. (Bloomberg)

TNK-BP's Ryazan Refinery

LONDON -- TNK-BP said Wednesday that it planned to start a diesel hydro-treating unit at the Ryazan oil refinery this year to make fuel that will meet higher European standards.

The 1.7 million-ton-per-year unit will mainly produce gasoil with no more than 10 parts per million, or 0.001 percent, of sulfur, TNK-BP spokeswoman Marina Dracheva said. (Bloomberg)

Polyus Gets 5 New Licenses

Polyus Gold, the country's biggest producer of the metal, said Wednesday that it received five new licenses for exploring fields in the Irkutsk region.

ZDK Lenzoloto, a Polyus unit, got the licenses through a number of auctions, Polyus said. The combined reserves potential of the fields is estimated at 1.3 tons of gold, it said. (Bloomberg)

St. Pete-Helsinki Rail Link

ST. PETERSBURG -- Russian Railways, or RZD, said Wednesday that it planned to spend 9 billion rubles ($367 million) on a high-speed link between St. Petersburg and Helsinki and a line to ports on the Baltic Sea.

The high-speed line is scheduled to become operational by 2010, RZD said in a statement. It is expected to cut the travel time between the cities to 1 1/2 hours from 5 1/2 hours, the statement said. (Bloomberg)

Sakha Gas Fraud Case

Igor Kornev, the former head of the Sakha republic's gas company, Yakutgazprom, has been charged with fraud and the case has been sent to court, local prosecutors said, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Kornev is accused of signing an order to pay an unknown individual 138 million rubles ($5.6 million) for work on the decomissioning of a gas condensate field in Sakha in 2001, the prosecutor's office said, Interfax reported. (MT)

For the Record

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Wednesday that he had fired Trade and Industry Minister Galym Orazbakov. (Bloomberg)

The Georgian central bank on Wednesday raised its key interest rate to 11 percent, citing a risk of higher inflation. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom is continuing talks with Nigeria on developing gas distribution and oil and gas production, a company official said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

The Federal Health and Social Development Inspection Service said the majority of counterfeit medicine in the country came from India and Britain, Interfax said Wednesday. (MT)

Ericsson said Wednesday that it signed a five-year deal with VimpelCom to supply equipment and services to build a mobile network. (Bloomberg)

Gazprombank said Wednesday that it sought to raise $450 million in loans to repay debt and finance operations. (Bloomberg)