Business in Brief

U.S. Pork Plants Banned



WASHINGTON -- Russia, the fifth-largest buyer of U.S. pork, has banned imports of the meat from plants run by Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods starting Monday.

"We're still trying to learn more about the reason for the suspension," Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said. Tyson, the world's largest meatpacker, still has four plants serving Russia, he said. A Smithfield spokesman declined to comment. (Bloomberg)




Grain Farmers Get Ahead



Farmers have sown around 38 percent of the expected spring grain crop, more than at the same time in 2007, the Agriculture Ministry said Sunday.

Around 11.7 million hectares were sown with spring grains as of Sunday, 3.8 million more year on year, the ministry said. (Bloomberg)




Baltika Sends Beer to Italy



ST. PETERSBURG -- Baltika Breweries said Sunday that it made its first deliveries of beer to Italy as the country's largest brewer seeks to tap Italy's expanding beverages market.

The beer company plans to start selling the Baltika, Nevskoye and Yarpivo brands in Italy by May, St. Petersburg-based Baltika said. (Bloomberg)




Television Beer Ad Proposal



State Duma deputies proposed extending a ban on television beer advertisements by two hours until midnight, Kommersant reported Sunday.

Beer ads on television are now allowed from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., and most of them run in the first two hours, the newspaper said. Deputies from the Liberal Democratic Party proposed prohibiting ads before midnight so fewer young people see them. (Bloomberg)




Turkmenistan Unifies Rates



Turkmenistan's Central Bank has unified the country's two currency exchange rates as the government seeks to attract foreign investment and move toward a market economy.

The bank set the rate at 14,250 manats to the dollar, the Turkmen government said Thursday. The official rate had been 6,250 manats to the dollar since Jan. 1, while a commercial rate of 16,100 manats was set April 24. (Bloomberg)




Oil Funds Hit $163Bln



ST. PETERSBURG -- The country's oil funds accumulated 3.84 trillion rubles ($162.5 billion) by May 1 as the world's biggest energy exporter benefited from oil and gas sales.

The Reserve Fund totaled 3.07 trillion rubles, the Finance Ministry said Sunday. The National Welfare Fund totaled 773.8 billion rubles, the ministry said. (Bloomberg)




Russneft Appeals Tax Claims



Russneft has filed an appeal with the Supreme Arbitration Court against back tax claims of 20 billion rubles ($840 million), Interfax reported Sunday, citing a source close to the company.

The appeal was filed last week after a lower court upheld claims from 2003 to 2005, Interfax said. (Bloomberg)




For the Record



SMR, a copper and molybdenum producer owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, quit talks with Serbia about buying the RTB Bor copper plant after disagreeing on the terms. (Bloomberg)

Kazakhtelecom said Sunday that its fiber-optic cables contained no copper as the national telephone monopoly attempts to ward off cable theft. (Bloomberg)