Business in Brief

March Industrial Output

Industrial output growth slowed less than expected in March as oil production declined, the State Statistics Service said Tuesday.

Output increased an annual 6.5 percent, compared with 7.5 percent in February, the service said. (Bloomberg)

Bank St. Petersburg Profit

ST. PETERSBURG -- Bank St. Petersburg said Thursday that profit climbed 67 percent last year as it lured new customers and increased loans.

Net income advanced to 2 billion rubles ($85.3 million) from 1.2 billion rubles the previous year, the bank said. (Bloomberg)

$12.8Bln Auction Thursday

The Central Bank has proposed injecting 300 billion rubles ($12.8 billion) into the banking industry through an auction Thursday, Interfax said Tuesday.

The bank has proposed the funds be placed with commercial banks until May 14 at an interest rate of not less than 7 percent, Interfax said. (Bloomberg)

Rosneft Increases Loan

Rosneft increased a loan to $3.43 billion to refinance debt, a banker involved in the deal said Tuesday.

The company borrowed an additional $425 million on a loan it raised in February, the banker said. (Bloomberg)

Gazpom Suggests Dividend

Gazprom recommended the board approve a dividend of 2.66 rubles per share for last year, Interfax said Tuesday, citing a source close to management.

Gazprom paid 2.54 rubles per share for 2006, a 69 percent increase from the previous year. (Bloomberg)

Wal-Mart to Study Russia

Wal-Mart Stores said Monday that it hired Rewe Group's Stephan Fanderl to study opportunities in Russia and neighboring markets.

Fanderl was head of hypermarkets and supermarkets for retailer Rewe Germany, Wal-Mart said. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Steel pipe maker ChTPZ Group shipped 415,900 tons of pipe products in the first quarter of 2008, down 11 percent from a year earlier, the company said Tuesday. (Reuters)

Evraz Group said Tuesday that crude-steel production rose 3.9 percent in the first quarter after it bought U.S. plants. (Bloomberg)

Sheremetyevo Airport said Tuesday that traffic increased 13 percent to 3.17 million passengers in the first quarter. (Bloomberg)

Kazakhstan banned wheat exports Tuesday in a bid to control domestic food prices. (Bloomberg)

Turkmenistan cut its gas production in the first quarter of 2008, state media reported Tuesday. (Reuters)

Turkmenistan's president has sacked his Central Bank chief after accusing him of "serious shortcomings" in reforming the country's financial system, state media reported Tuesday. (Reuters)

The Georgian government created its first tax-free special economic zone in the Black Sea port of Poti. (Bloomberg)

The Arctic may hold 8.5 percent more of the world's undiscovered oil and gas resources than previously thought, Steven Sawhill, a senior fellow at Oslo-based research company Ocean Futures, said Tuesday. (Bloomberg)