Business in Brief

Norilsk's Palladium Jewelry

Norilsk Nickel, the biggest maker of palladium, said Thursday that it would join other leading producers to seek to boost demand for the metal by promoting its use in jewelry.

Norilsk, Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings and Lonmin will set up a venture that will promote palladium for use in jewelry, Norilsk said. (Bloomberg)

Export Duty on Fertilizers

The country plans to introduce an export duty on mineral fertilizers next month to reduce costs of the nutrients for domestic grain producers.

Fertilizer exports will likely be taxed 8.5 to 9 percent of their customs value, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Uralkali to Raise Prices

Potash producer Uralkali said Thursday that it reached an agreement with the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service to increase prices for the crop nutrient.

Uralkali agreed to pay 49 million rubles ($2.05 million) in fines, the company said in a statement. Uralkali will be able to sell potash in Russia based on the lowest price it receives for export, the company said. (Bloomberg)

Wheat Duties Go to July

Russia, the world's third-largest wheat exporter, will extend duties on wheat exports until July 1 to keep more grain in the country, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Thursday.

The country increased the wheat duty almost fivefold from Jan. 29 to April 30 and halted exports to Belarus and Kazakhstan. (Bloomberg)

January Trade Surplus Up

The Federal Customs Service said Thursday that the trade surplus almost doubled in January from the same month last year as the country benefited from higher commodity prices.

The surplus reached $19.9 billion, compared with $11.5 billion in January 2007, the service said. (Bloomberg)

Top 5 Oil Producers Warned

The country's anti-monopoly authority warned the country's five largest oil producers against colluding to create a shortfall of products such as gasoline that could inflate prices.

The competition watchdog asked the producers and the Industry and Energy Ministry for refinery maintenance plans in March and April, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

$460M for Venture Funds

The country will allocate as much as 9 billion rubles ($460 million) to create a second group of state-backed venture funds in a bid to reduce the country's reliance on oil and gas exports.

The competition's rules will be made public March 14, and the winners will be announced in June, Economic Development and Trade Minister Elvira Nabiullina said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

36.6 Sales Rose 65% in 2007

Pharmacy chain 36.6 said Thursday that sales rose 65 percent in 2007 after the company added outlets.

Sales climbed to $872 million from $529 million in 2006, 36.6 said. Revenue rose one-fifth at stores open before the start of 2006. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

The planned extension of an oil pipeline across eastern Siberia to the Pacific coast could cost as much as 330 billion rubles ($13.8 billion), RIA-Novosti said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

X5 Retail Group has named its hypermarkets Mercado as the chain expands in the country, the company said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom's media arm is completing the purchase of a majority stake in RuTube, Kommersant said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Electronics retailer Eldorado Group may sell a stake to investors if efforts to dispute tax claims fail, a spokesman said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Mosenergo said Thursday that its losses increased more than threefold in the first nine months of 2007 after revaluing assets. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil said Thursday that it planned to drill two new exploration wells in the Caspian Sea after previously failing to find reserves there. (Bloomberg)