Business in Brief

Central Bank Confusion

The Central Bank is trying to "confuse" the market about its intentions on the ruble to deter investors from betting that policymakers may be forced to allow the currency to appreciate, Commerzbank said.

The Central Bank may let the ruble gain against the dollar and euro to curb rising consumer prices, Alexei Ulyukayev, a Central Bank first deputy chairman, said in an interview with Kommersant published Wednesday. Deputy chairman Konstantin Korishchenko said Tuesday that investors betting on an advance in the ruble this year were "irrational." (Bloomberg)

Mordashov Refuses TUI Bid

DUSSELDORF, Germany -- TUI's biggest shareholder, Norwegian shipping billionaire John Fredriksen, bid for Alexei Mordashov's stake in a battle to control the management and structure of Europe's largest tourism company.

Fredriksen offered Mordashov more than $700 million, and he turned it down, the Norwegian's business partner, Tor Olav Troim said before an annual shareholders meeting. (Bloomberg)

Tatneft's 124% Replacement

Midsized oil firm Tatneft said Wednesday that it replaced 124 percent of its oil production volumes with new reserves in 2007.

The firm said its SPE proved reserves of crude oil increased by 228 million barrels, or 4 percent, to 6.14 billion barrels in 2007. Tatneft, the largest oil producer in the republic of Tatarstan, produced 25.74 million tons, or 183.35 million barrels, in 2007. (Reuters)

Warning Issued on Reserves

Russia, which holds the world's third-largest gold and foreign exchange reserves of $530 billion, should not invest a single cent locally because the economy is already overheated, Central Bank first deputy chairman said Wednesday.

"When the economy is overheated, the reserves must become even more untouchable," Ulyukayev said, Kommersant reported. (Reuters)

Ruble Strengthens in Trade

The ruble rose 2.3 percent last month against the currencies of its 18 major trading partners, adjusted to take account of movements in consumer prices, the Central Bank said Wednesday.

The increase in the so-called real effective exchange rate was the biggest since a 5.1 percent jump in December, the bank said. (Bloomberg)

Baltika Q1 Growth Slows

Baltika Breweries, the country's largest brewer, said Wednesday that first-quarter profit growth slowed to 2.2 percent after costs increased and a year-earlier surge in sales from a mild winter was not repeated.

Net income advanced to 58.7 million euros ($91 million) from 57.4 million euros, slowing from a 54 percent increase a year earlier, said the company, controlled by Carlsberg. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

State energy firm Naftogaz Ukrainy said Wednesday that it was seeking a 15-year contract from Gazprom that would fix gas import price increases for the next five years. (Reuters)

Norilsk Nickel has appointed seven banks as bookrunners to arrange a $1.3 billion, three-year syndicated loan, banking sources said Wednesday. (Reuters)

Ford Motor's European division will be conservative about expanding in Russia, CEO John Fleming said, Vedomosti reported Wednesday. (Bloomberg)