Business in Brief

NLMK to See $1.5Bln

Steelmaker Novolipetsk, or NLMK, will launch general syndication of a $1.5 billion, five-year pre-export financing next week via coordinating banks BNP Paribas and Societe Generale, a banking source said Thursday.

The loan, which is secured by export contracts, will be used to refinance debt held by the borrower's recently acquired Russian steelmaker Maxi Group, as well as for capital expenditure. (Reuters)

$2.1Bln Spent Online in '07

Russians spent as much as 50 billion rubles ($2.1 billion) shopping online last year, President-elect Dmitry Medvedev said, Interfax reported Thursday.

Medvedev said the online advertising market exceeded 11 billion rubles last year, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)

Uralkali Profit Doubles

Uralkali, the potash producer owned by billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, said full-year profit more than doubled on higher prices for the crop nutrient.

Profit rose to 8.05 billion rubles ($340 million), CEO Vladislav Baumgertner said Wednesday. Sales rose 36 percent to 22.7 billion rubles. (Bloomberg)

VTB Profit Falls 57% in Q1

VTB Group said Thursday that profit declined 57 percent in the first quarter after posting a loss in the first two months of the year.

Net income declined to 1.16 billion rubles ($49 million) from 2.68 billion rubles in the same period last year, in results calculated to Russian accounting standards, the bank said. (Bloomberg)

Foreign Reserves at $507Bln

The country's foreign currency and gold reserves, the world's third-largest, rose to a record $506.8 billion last week, the Central Bank said Thursday.

The value of the reserves increased by $4.6 billion in the week ended March 28, after rising $100 million in the previous week, the bank said. (Bloomberg)

West Siberian Production

West Siberian Resources, a Stockholm-traded oil producer operating in Russia, said Thursday that its oil production rose 40 percent to a record in the first quarter.

The firm had production of 3.16 million barrels in the period, up from 2.26 million barrels in the year-earlier period, West Siberian said. (Bloomberg)

Italian Firm's Sukhoi Interest

Finmeccanica, Italy's largest defense contractor, will buy a stake in Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, as part of its cooperation agreement to help the plane maker develop its SuperJet airliner.

Finmeccanica is almost done evaluating Sukhoi, CEO Pier Francesco Guarguaglini said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Unified Energy System said Thursday that the country's electricity consumption rose 5.1 percent in the first quarter this year. (Bloomberg)

Unified Energy System said Thursday that it would auction a 21.27 percent stake in southern power utility Bashkirenergo in May. (Bloomberg)

German conglomerate Robert Bosch will invest 150 million euros in a new office near Moscow, the company said Wednesday. (Reuters)

The government must rescind plans to raise export duties on timber before it can be accepted as a member of the WTO, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said Thursday. (Bloomberg)