Business in Brief

Sistema Wants Firm Merger

Sistema, the holding company of billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov, said Wednesday that it wanted to merge Moscow's dominant fixed-line phone firm with Central Telegraph to boost its position in the broadband market.

Sistema has put forward a proposal to combine Moscow City Telephone, which it controls, with Central Telegraph, Sistema spokesman Kirill Semyonov said. (Bloomberg)

Ingosstrakh's $250M Plans

Insurance company Ingosstrakh, controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element holding, plans to spend about $250 million on acquisitions in Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan before 2009, the head of the company said Wednesday.

CEO Alexander Grigoryev said he planned to spend half the money in Russia and the rest in the other two countries. He values the company at $4.5 billion. "In Russia, we singled out 14 companies that are worth buying. … We have entered into negotiations with 10 of them," Grigoryev said. (Reuters)

Farming Bank's Bonds

Russian Agricultural Bank, the government-run lender for farming, sold $1.75 billion of bonds to international investors, a banker familiar with the deal said Wednesday.

The $750 million of five-year securities were priced to yield 7.13 percent, and the $1 billion of 10-year notes will yield 7.75 percent, the banker said. (Bloomberg)

Severstal Q1 Profit Falls 4%

Severstal, the country's largest steelmaker, said Wednesday that first-quarter profit fell 4.1 percent on higher raw-material costs and increased tax payments at its U.S. and Italian units.

Net income declined to $439 million, or 44 cents per share, from $458 million, or 45 cents, a year earlier, the company said. (Bloomberg)

Caspian Pipeline Expansion

Chevron, the biggest foreign oil company in Kazakhstan, is within weeks of approving a plan to more than double the capacity of a pipeline to the Black Sea, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Wednesday.

Shareholders in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium expect to resolve most questions over the expansion at a three-day board meeting, which ends Thursday, the source said. Kommersant reported earlier Wednesday that Chevron blocked the expansion because of a disagreement with partner Transneft. (Bloomberg)

GAZ May Need $5Bln

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska's GAZ will need as much as $5 billion as it reorganizes by 2012 to focus on making light commercial vehicles, trucks, cars and special equipment, CEO Sergei Zanozin said, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

GAZ aims to lure half of the money from foreign partners or through bank loans and selling shares, Zanozin said, the newspaper reported. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Transcontainer may sell as much as 20 percent of its shares in an IPO, Russian Railways senior vice president Fyodor Andreyev said, Interfax reported Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

The country's largest independent crude producers, including LUKoil and TNK-BP, pledged to cut oil-product exports during plant repairs to ensure adequate supplies to the domestic market, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)