Business in Brief

Norilsk to Bid for Udokan

Norilsk Nickel's board on Tuesday gave approval for the company to bid at a July 17 auction for the nation's largest untapped copper field, Udokan, spokeswoman Yelena Kovalyova said.

Kovalyova declined to comment on a report in Kommersant that the company agreed in principle to bid in a group with Metalloinvest and state-owned Russian Technologies. (Bloomberg)

Sibur Managers to Buy 50%

Five managers at Sibur agreed to buy 50 percent of the company, valuing Europe's largest petrochemicals producer at $5.4 billion.

The managers signed a preliminary accord with majority shareholder Gazprombank on Tuesday, the two sides said. A final deal depends on approval by Gazprombank's board. (Bloomberg)

Sberbank Earnings Up 29%

Sberbank, the country's biggest bank, said Tuesday that earnings rose 29 percent last year on increased corporate lending and new branches.

Net income climbed to 106.5 billion rubles ($4.5 billion) from 82.8 billion rubles a year earlier, Sberbank said. (Bloomberg)

Merrill Lynch's Russia Chief

Sergei Aleksashenko, chairman of Merrill Lynch's Russian operations for the past two years, is to leave the bank shortly, the company said Tuesday.

Aleksashenko, a former deputy finance minister, was leaving by "mutual decision," the bank said in a statement. Andrea Orcel, head of global origination and president of EMEA global markets & investment banking, said by phone that he was "sorry" to see Aleksashenko go but that "the business in Russia remains unaffected."

Kommersant, citing banking sources, said Aleksashenko had clashed with London over the bigger role it was playing in the Moscow office. Orcel declined to comment on the reasons behind his departure. (MT)

Alfa Bank Boosts Profit 33%

Alfa Bank, a unit of Alfa Group, said Tuesday that 2007 profit rose 33 percent as it increased lending.

Net income climbed to $253.5 million from $190.3 million the previous year, Alfa said. Total assets increased 49 percent to $22.7 billion, while outstanding loans advanced 57 percent to $15.4 billion. (Bloomberg)

Medvedev Teacher at VTB?

Nikolai Kropachev, the former university adviser to President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, was nominated to the board of VTB Group, the country's second-biggest bank.

Kropachev, the acting dean of St. Petersburg State University, is one of two independent candidates, VTB said Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Standard & Poor's said Tuesday that it might upgrade Russia's sovereign-debt rating this year. (Bloomberg)

Far Eastern Shipping Company said Tuesday that it planned to issue additional shares in August to finance acquisitions. (Reuters)

Coca-Cola said Thursday that it began production of kvas in 1.5-liter bottles under the name of Kruzhka & Bochka, to increase sales in Russia. (Bloomberg)

Russia will permit beer advertisements at sporting events, but not in time for football's Champion's League final in Moscow on May 21, Vedomosti reported Tuesday. (Bloomberg)