Business in Brief

Commodities Exchange



Transneft, Rosneft and Zarubezhneft will be among the founders of a proposed commodity exchange in St. Petersburg, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing Vladimir Milovidov, head of the Federal Service for Financial Markets.

VTB Group, Sberbank, Gazprombank, Tatneft, Surgutneftegaz and Novatek are also involved in planning the exchange, Interfax said.

The bourse will trade ruble-denominated contracts and may open as early as June, Milovidov was cited as saying. (Bloomberg)




Welfare Fund Managers



VTB Group may be hired to manage the country's $32 billion sovereign wealth fund, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Wednesday.

The managers for the National Welfare Fund may be Russian or foreign, Kudrin said. "It could be VEB and VTB," he said, referring to state-run development bank Vnesheconombank and VTB.

Asked whether several banks could be involved in managing the funds, Kudrin said Norway's sovereign fund is managed by "over 20" banks. (Bloomberg)




Capital Inflow at $25Bln



Russia cut its estimate of capital inflow for this year to $25 billion from as much as $40 billion because of the global liquidity crisis, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Wednesday.

Capital inflow doubled last year to a record $82.3 billion, and Kudrin said the previous estimate for this year was for $35 billion to $40 billion.

The earlier forecast was made "before all the risks of the global crisis had been assessed," Kudrin said at an Audit Chamber conference. "We are managing the situation and regulating liquidity ourselves." (Bloomberg)




Gazprom Venture Fund



Gazprom plans to establish a venture capital fund as it seeks to advance its technological expertise.

Gazprom will hold 51 percent of Gazprom Venture, with banking unit Gazprombank holding the rest, the company said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement after a board meeting.

The main tasks of Gazprom Venture will be to structure, finance and manage Gazprom's new projects, the company said. The fund will consist of five units dedicated to different technological areas. Gazprom has already chosen nine projects to be funded by Gazprom Venture, according to the statement. (Bloomberg)




RusHydro Power Plant



ST. PETERSBURG -- RusHydro, the world's second-largest hydropower company, will build a 150 billion-ruble ($6.34 billion) electricity plant near St. Petersburg to help meet demand for energy in northwest Russia.

The utility, also known as Hydro-OGK, will select a contractor by April 4, the company said on its web site late Tuesday.

Construction of the plant was first planned in 1989 and abandoned in 1991. The Leningrad region government approved the project's resumption in December.

The so-called pump storage power plant uses both hydroelectric technology and water storage. The Zagorskaya plant in the Moscow region is Russia's only other such facility.

The new power station will start operating in 2014 and be completed by 2017, the company said. The plant is expected to generate 2.34 billion kilowatt-hours per year, according to the statement. (Bloomberg)