Business in Brief

Inflation Slowed in February

Consumer prices rose at a slower monthly pace in February, led by power, water and other utility costs, the State Statistics Service said Wednesday.

Prices rose 1.2 percent from January, when they jumped 2.3 percent, the statistics service. The median forecast of 16 economists was for a 1.3 percent gain. Prices rose 3.5 percent in the year through February. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Neft's Port Buy

ST. PETERSBURG -- Gazprom Neft bought 50 percent of Primorsk Commercial Port, which controls part of the oil terminal at Russia's Baltic Sea port of Primorsk, Vedomosti reported Wednesday, citing company officials.

Primorsk Commercial Port oversees the loading of vessels with oil, docking tankers and environmental monitoring of four terminals at the port, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

KM Invest to Appeal Ruling

KM Invest, a holding company for assets jointly owned by billionaires Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov, said Wednesday that it would appeal a court decision to block its sale of shares in Norilsk Nickel and Polyus Gold.

The Moscow Arbitration Court on Wednesday halted the sale of 2 percent of Norilsk and 7.4 percent of Polyus, company spokesman Konstantin Vorontsov said. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine to Sell Energy Firm

KIEV -- Ukraine wants to sell its 71 percent stake in energy distributor Cherkasyoblenergo this year, Ekonomicheskiye Izvestia said Wednesday, citing government documents.

Cherkasyoblenergo will be the seventh energy distributor listed for sale in 2008, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

NYME Deal May End

ST. PETERSBURG -- The government may end a partnership with the New York Mercantile Exchange to create a Russian energy exchange in St. Petersburg, Kommersant reported Wednesday, citing unidentified officials.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov held a meeting Tuesday on the option of using Russian banks to back deposits for clearing trades, the paper said. (Bloomberg)

Shell Venture's Ouput

Royal Dutch Shell's Siberian oil venture Salym Petroleum Development may produce an average 140,000 barrels of crude a day in 2010 as the company approaches peak output.

Total investment in Salym will be about $1.5 billion, company said. (Bloomberg)

MMK's Turkish Steel Plant

ISTANBUL -- Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works, or MMK, and Turkey's Atakas Group will begin building a $1.4 billion steel plant in Turkey this month, Yeni Safak newspaper said Wednesday.

The plant, in the southern province of Iskenderun, will produce 2.5 million tons of hot- and cold-rolled steel, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Georgian Inflation Rises

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian inflation accelerated to 10.9 percent in February, led by transport and housing costs, the country's statistics service said Wednesday.

The rate increased from 10.7 percent in January, the service said. Consumer prices rose 0.9 percent, compared with a 2.5 percent advance in January. Transport costs increased an annual 17.1 percent while housing, water and electricity advanced 14.4 percent. (Bloomberg)

OGK-1 Auction Interest

Electricite de France and Fortum have pulled out of an auction for Moscow-based power generator OGK-1, Vedomosti reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the sale plans.

OGK-1 is likely to go to Russian power retailing company Transneftservice-S, the remaining bidder, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Swedbank Slows Expansion

STOCKHOLM -- Swedbank, the largest bank in the Baltic region, will expand more slowly in Russia than originally planned, chief executive Jan Liden said Wednesday.

The bank plans to open "a few" new Russian branches this year, where it currently operates in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, Liden said. (Bloomberg)