Business in Brief

Agicultural Bank Gets $3Bln

The country has agreed to give the Russian Agricultural Bank 70 billion rubles ($3 billion) to help boost grain output after borrowing costs doubled, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Wednesday.

The bank will get 20 billion rubles to help farmers finance spring sowing and another 50 billion rubles for longer-term loans, Gordeyev said after meeting with disgruntled growers. "It's almost a done deal." (Bloomberg)

Sistema May Seek $10Bln

Sistema, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's holding company, said Wednesday that it was in talks with banks to borrow $10 billion for acquisitions in Russia and Ukraine.

Sistema's level of debt to earnings provides enough capacity for borrowing, said Anton Abugov, Sistema's first vice president. (Bloomberg)

Total Looks Beyond LUKoil

Total, Europe's largest refiner, said Wednesday that it secured oil from suppliers other than LUKoil as a shutoff of shipments by the Russian company to the Leuna refinery continued into March.

The German plant has not reduced operations, said Delphine Saucier, a spokeswoman for Total. The refinery is on target to refine 12 million tons of oil this year, or an average of 240,000 barrels per day, she said, declining to name the alternative suppliers of crude. (Bloomberg)

Julius Baer's Moscow Office

ZURICH -- Julius Baer Holding, Switzerland's biggest independent wealth manager, said Wednesday that it opened an office in Moscow.

Alain Jacques Steiger will head the new representative office, Zurich-based Julius Baer said. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine Fuel Spill Damages

KIEV -- Ukraine will ask Russia for $1.43 billion in compensation following a fuel spill in the waterway linking the Black and Azov seas in November, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchinov said.

Ukraine also wants Russia to pay 88.3 million hryvnas ($17.5 million) after the spill caused damage to the seashore, Turchinov said, according to a Cabinet statement Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

BNP Retail Operations Start

BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, said Wednesday that it started retail operations in Russia as part of a global expansion into "fast-growing markets."

BNP opened three offices in Moscow last month and plans to have 80 across Russia within three years, the bank said. (Bloomberg)

Telephone Firm's New CEO

Moscow City Telephone, the city's dominant fixed-line phone company, named Nikolai Maksimenka chief executive on Wednesday.

Maksimenka, 45, was appointed at Moscow City Telephone's extraordinary shareholder meeting, the company said. (Bloomberg)

Kazakhs to Curb Borrowing

ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan will curb foreign borrowing by domestic banks as it seeks to strengthen its financial markets in response to the global credit squeeze.

Kazakhstan limited local banks' foreign debt to a maximum of four times the lenders' capital beginning July 1, 2009, the Agency for Financial Supervision said in a statement Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

Inflation Up 0.6% in March

Consumer prices have risen 0.6 percent since the start of the month, RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday.

In the week ending Monday, prices grew 0.2 percent, the State Statistics Service said, RIA-Novosti reported. Consumer prices rose a monthly 1.2 percent in February, led by food and utility costs. (Bloomberg)

ARMZ Uranium Output Up

ARMZ, the mining unit of state nuclear company Rosatom, said Wednesday that it increased uranium output by 7 percent last year as new mines started operations.

ARMZ, also known as AtomRedMetZoloto, mined 3,413 tons of uranium in Russia, the company said in a statement. (Bloomberg)