Business in Brief

Tymoshenko Hospitalized



KIEV -- Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was hospitalized after returning from gas supply talks in Moscow and is now on sick leave.

Tymoshenko had sought to derail an agreement on debt and gas deliveries that Presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Vladimir Putin reached on Feb. 12.

Gazprom had threatened to cut deliveries by that date. "The deadline is in force. No one has canceled it," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said. (Bloomberg, Reuters)




Evraz Investing in Rails



Evraz Group said Thursday that it planned to spend 500 million euros ($755 million) doubling output at its rail mills as it vies with other steelmakers to supply tracks to Russian Railways.

The company will make almost 2 million tons a year of rail in Russia after completing an upgrade in 2011, CEO Alexander Frolov said. (Bloomberg)




Forex and Gold Reserves



The country's foreign currency and gold reserves, the world's third largest, rose to $483.9 billion last week, the Central Bank said Thursday.

The value of the reserves increased by $2.6 billion the week ended Feb. 22, after rising by $300 million in the previous week, the bank said. (Bloomberg)




Rosgosstrakh Sell-Off



The government may sell its entire stake in the nation's largest insurer, Rosgosstrakh, Interfax reported Thursday.

The government may "complete the privatization" of Rosgosstrakh this year, said Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov, the news service reported. Rosgosstrakh declined to comment, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)




X5 Says Profit Rose 32%



X5 Retail Group, the country's largest supermarket company, said Thursday that profit rose 32 percent in the fourth quarter after it added stores and lured more shoppers away from outdoor markets.

Net income climbed to $87.2 million from $66.1 million a year earlier, the company said. Sales jumped 59 percent to $1.7 billion. (Bloomberg)




Surgutneftegaz Delays



Oil producer Surgutneftegaz said Thursday that the start of production at its Talakan field was being held up by delays in building a pipeline across eastern Siberia.

Surgut has 48 wells drilled, some of which could already produce as much as 200 tons per day, CEO Vladimir Bogdanov said. (Bloomberg)




Kazakh Greenhouse Gases



ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan said Thursday that it would limit greenhouse gases at 2008 levels and seek cuts afterward.

Kazakhstan will define limits using this year as a base, according to a government decree published Thursday in the state-run newspaper Kazakhstanskaya Pravda. (Bloomberg)




Comstar Long-Distance



Comstar United Telesystems, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's telecoms company, said Thursday that it had applied for permission to offer long-distance calls.

Comstar completed building its long-distance network and asked the IT and Communications Ministry for access codes to start the new service, the company said. (Bloomberg)




UBS Pans VTB's Prospects



Investors should switch from VTB Group, the country's second-biggest bank, to Sberbank, its biggest, because "continuing poor credit conditions" will make it more difficult for the bank to borrow and may hurt its profit margins, UBS said Thursday.

The Swiss bank cut its price estimate for VTB's Global Depositary Receipts to $9 from $11, keeping its "neutral" recommendation. (Bloomberg)




For the Record



LUKoil is "studying the possibility of building" an oil refinery in Cuba, RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday, citing an Economic Development and Trade Ministry source. (Bloomberg)

InBev, the world's largest brewer, said Thursday that fourth-quarter profit more than doubled on gains from selling real estate and higher sales in Brazil and Eastern Europe. (Bloomberg)