Business in Brief

Dollar Sinks Against Ruble

The dollar took a drastic drop Wednesday in trading on the MICEX, hitting its lowest point since August 1999 as the euro made gains, Interfax said.

The dollar closed at 24.17 rubles with a loss of 16.6 kopeks for the day, the news agency said. The euro gained 13.05 kopeks to close at 36.35 rubles. (MT)

NLMK Bid to Be Approved

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service is ready to allow Novolipetsk Steel, or NLMK, to acquire 100 percent of Maxi Steel Group, the service's chief said Wednesday, Interfax said.

The service recently refused NLMK's request to buy the mill developer for not submitting all the necessary paperwork, the news agency reported. (MT)

Ruukki Sawmill Rejected

HELSINKI -- Ruukki Group Oyj said Wednesday that Russian government officials rejected its plan to build a sawmill in Kostroma.

The planned sawmill project was removed from the Kostroma region's register of investment projects without official notification to the company, Finland-based Ruukki Group said in a statement. Ruukki's application for priority investor status for the sawmill was also not approved, the statement said.

The status of Ruukki's pulp mill project in Kostroma has not changed, the company said. (Bloomberg)

Renault's AvtoVAZ Buy

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has cleared a deal by French carmaker Renault to buy 25 percent of AvtoVAZ, the country's biggest automaker, agency head Igor Artemyev told reporters.

A source close to the deal said Tuesday that the final agreement between Renault and AvtoVAZ would be signed in Moscow on Friday. (Reuters)

'Quick' Oil Tax Reform Seen

Alfa Bank has raised its rating on the country's oil sector as it expects a quick tax reform to ease the fiscal burden on the industry to support flagging growth, it said Wednesday.

"We think that much-needed oil taxation reform will likely be moved up the priority list shortly after the upcoming presidential election," chief strategist Ron Smith and mid-cap strategist Erik DePoy said. (Reuters)

2 New Copper Plants

Russian Copper, the country's third-largest producer of the metal, said Wednesday that it planned to spend at least $640 million in the next three years building two nickel plants in Russia.

"Russian Copper wants to maintain its focus on copper" and "that's why we decided to create a separate nickel unit," spokesman Alexander Khanin said. (Bloomberg)

WBD Merges Units

Wimm-Bill-Dann, the country's biggest milk producer, said Wednesday that it would merge its dairy and baby food units to increase efficiency and cut costs.

The two divisions will become part of WBD Foods as of March 1, the company said. The company's drinks unit may also join WBD Foods. A new unit, WBD International, will focus on raising sales in markets including Ukraine. The reorganization will make the company leaner and more efficient," chief executive Tony Maher said. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Armada, a Russian provider of software and IT services, said Wednesday that profit rose 53 percent last year. (Bloomberg)

IBS Group Holding, a Russian provider of software and IT services, said Wednesday that its profit in the first nine months of its fiscal year rose 72 percent. (Bloomberg)

Gaz de France said Wednesday that it was still interested in joining the Nabucco pipeline project and wasn't in talks with Gazprom about the rival South Stream link. (Bloomberg)

SUEK, which will come under Gazprom's control by September, may raise $4 billion in an IPO, Kommersant said Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

SUEK, said Wednesday that it planned to triple sales to Asia by 2010. (Bloomberg)

TNK-BP said Wednesday that the company planned to increase output to 1.9 million barrels per day in 2012. (Bloomberg)