Business in Brief

Storchak Detective Too Busy



A top detective has stepped down as lead investigator on the politically charged attempted embezzlement case against Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak, the Investigative Committee said Wednesday.

The Investigative Committee, under the auspices of the Prosecutor General's Office, said Valery Khomitsky asked to step down as leader of the group of detectives on the Storchak case because his workload was too big. A spokesman said he would remain a normal investigator on the case. (Reuters)




Kiev Allows Grain Exports



KIEV -- Ukraine on Wednesday removed grain export restrictions after two years, easing a supply bottleneck that helped push international wheat prices to record highs.

"Today we canceled all restrictions," Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said. "All grain exporters can ship as much as they want." (Bloomberg)




UralSib Denies Buyout Talks



UralSib, the bank controlled by billionaire Nikolai Tsvetkov, denied on Wednesday that it was in talks to sell a controlling stake to Gazprombank.

"These rumors have no basis in reality. We are not in talks," said Alexander Vikhrov, UralSib's executive director. (Bloomberg)




$595Bln Transport Proposal



The government may approve a plan to spend 13.9 trillion rubles ($595 billion) on upgrading the transport infrastructure from 2010 to 2015, RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday.

The government will consider the Transportation Ministry's request at a meeting Thursday, the news agency said. Under the plan, 4.6 trillion rubles would come from the federal budget, 615 billion rubles from regional budgets and the rest from "non-budgetary funds," the news service said. (Bloomberg)




$220M for Alcoa in Russia



Alcoa, the world's third-largest aluminum producer, said Wednesday that it planned to increase spending to $220 million this year on its two plants in Russia to help boost output and efficiency.

The company will invest slightly less than the combined $290 million spent in the previous three years, Yevgeny Luzov, Alcoa country manager for Russia, said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)




For the Record



VimpelCom plans to sell as much as $2 billion of bonds to refinance debt used to buy Golden Telecom, a banker involved in the deal said. (Bloomberg)

Rostelecom, the country's dominant long-distance telephone provider, said Wednesday that a court had overturned a 3.47 billion ruble ($148.6 million) tax claim against it. (Bloomberg)

Italy's decision to provide Alitalia a 300 million euro ($479 million) loan will prevent the unprofitable airline from collapsing and give investors time to prepare bids, Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi said. (Bloomberg)

Aeroflot said Wednesday that it planned to increase its dividend for 2007 by 6 percent, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)

Consumer prices rose 6 percent in the year through April 21, the State Statistics Service said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

OGK-3, a utility controlled by Norilsk Nickel, said Wednesday that it planned to return 25 percent of net profit to shareholders. (Bloomberg)