Business in Brief

Duma Passes Strategic Bill

The State Duma on Wednesday backed restrictions limiting foreign investment in strategic sectors such as oil and gas, aerospace and mass media.

The legislation, which also would increase the powers of the security services in business transactions, has raised concern among foreign investors. The Duma passed the bill in its final reading 384-55. (AP)

Enel to Invest $9Bln

Enel, Italy's largest utility, said Wednesday that it planned to invest more than $9 billion in Russia as it seeks to develop electricity and gas assets.

Enel CEO Fulvio Conti reiterated the company's plan to complete the spending within the next five years while meeting with President Vladimir Putin, an Enel spokesman said. Sergei Yastrzhembsky, an aide to Putin, had told reporters that Enel would spend 9 billion euros. (Bloomberg)

Mozzarella Kept at Bay

Tainted mozzarella from Italy's Campania region will be kept off the market, the country's top public health official said Wednesday.

The Federal Consumer Protection Service "has the situation under control," Gennady Onishchenko said.

"The European Union assured us and other European countries that no shipments of the mozzarella left Campania," he said. "But we weren't satisfied, so controls are in place and we won't allow the mozzarella to reach store shelves in Russia." (Bloomberg)

Gazprombank Italy Venture

Intesa Sanpaolo and Gazprombank plan to form an investment bank to fund Italian-Russian projects around the world, an aide to President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

Milan-based Intesa will own half of the bank, which will be based in Italy and registered by the end of the year, Sergei Yastrzhembsky said after Putin met with Italian executives, including Intesa chairman Giovanni Bazoli. Gazprombank and Vneshekonombank will own the other half. (Bloomberg)

Imperial Energy Falls 23%

Imperial Energy, a Britain-based oil firm working in western Siberia, fell the most ever on Wednesday after saying it may sell as much as $600 million of new shares to fund exploration and development.

Imperial plunged slumped 23 percent to 975 pence in London. The decline is the biggest since the shares started trading in April 2004.

Imperial said it hired a unit of Merrill Lynch and Hoare Govett to underwrite a rights offering. (Bloomberg)

Karusel Profit Doubles

Karusel, a superstore chain that may be bought by X5 Retail Group, said Wednesday that profit doubled in 2007 after higher incomes enabled more shoppers to buy their goods.

Net income rose to $19.9 million from $9.9 million in 2006, the company said. Sales more than doubled to $831 million. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

The Central Bank has posted a list of managers responsible for their banks' licenses being pulled in a bid to stop them from working with other lenders, Kommersant said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

Leonid Rozhetskin, a Russian-born U.S. citizen who disappeared in Latvia last month, had a fake Latvian passport, Interior Minister Mareks Seglins said, Telegraf newspaper reported. (Bloomberg)