Forum in Brief

Flights From Riga to Sochi

Latvia's airBaltic airline will start nonstop flights from Riga to Sochi later this month, Latvian Transport Minister Ainars Slesers said Saturday during a working meeting with Transportation Minister Igor Levitin, Interfax reported.

The first flight to Sochi is scheduled for June 18. The airline already flies to St. Petersburg and Moscow. (MT)

Gryzlov Eyes Water Exports

Russia is ready to export drinking water to the rest of the world, possibly through special pipelines, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said Saturday, Interfax reported.

"According to reliable assessments, our country guarantees the preservation of 20 percent of the world's supply of drinking water," Gryzlov said.

"Given the potential of our country and the demand of other states, the issue of exporting drinking water, for example via special water pipelines, will probably be looked into in the future," he said, adding that the export of water, like energy, would add to global security. (MT)

Kiriyenko on Bushehr Work

Preparations for the startup of an Iranian nuclear power plant will begin this fall, Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko said Saturday.

Kiriyenko said builders were in the final stages of work on the plant, near the city of Bushehr. Kiriyenko, speaking to reporters, also said Dan Belenky would take over as head of Atomstroiexport, Interfax reported. (MT)

Bombardier and Transmash

Bombardier, the world's second-largest train maker by sales, may purchase a stake in Transmashholding after agreeing to two joint ventures with the company this year, chairman Laurent Beaudoin said Saturday.

The companies are holding talks on the possible terms of the transactions, Beaudoin said in an interview.

Bombardier is bidding to build double-decker passenger trains for Russian Railways and to take part in large infrastructure projects in St. Petersburg and Sochi, Beaudoin said. (Bloomberg)

OPK Plans $1Bln IPO

Coking coal producer OPK Mining plans to raise $1 billion in an IPO next year to develop its mines in Siberia.

A stake of at least 25 percent may be sold in Hong Kong or London, Dmitry Sakhno, chief executive of OPK unit Yeniseiskaya Industrial, said Saturday in an interview. OPK is also considering selling the stake to a single investor, he said. (Bloomberg)

X5 Open to Buying Lenta

X5 Retail Group, Russia's largest supermarket company, may be interested in buying the Lenta chain of hypermarkets, X5 chief executive Lev Khasis said Saturday.

X5 would consider acquiring the St. Petersburg-based chain "if Lenta shareholders make us a proposal that would be attractive and hard to refuse," Khasis said in an interview. "No one has made any proposals yet and it's a hypothetical story." (Bloomberg)

Aeroflot Gives Up on Alitalia

Aeroflot may not resume talks to buy the Italian government's stake in Alitalia because the airline is "past the point of no return," the head of Russia's largest carrier said Saturday.

"I don't know if we're interested in buying Alitalia, because we don't know what's going on there," CEO Valery Okulov said in an interview. "A year ago, it could have rehabilitated its health," Okulov said. "Now, I don't think so." (Bloomberg)

Enel to Sell OGK-5 Stake

Enel, Italy's largest utility, plans to sell 2.5 percent of OGK-5 to the International Finance Corp. as it seeks partners to help grow its business in Russia.

The IFC will pay about 4.43 rubles (19 cents) per share, the same price Enel paid in the public auction for a controlling stake in OGK-5, Enel CEO Fulvio Conti said in an interview. (Bloomberg)

50 New Superjet Orders

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, maker of the Superjet, the country's first all-new post-Soviet passenger airplane, will sell 50 more such jets over the next few months, doubling total orders by year end.

"We expect to sell 50 more Superjets, including to customers in Western Europe," Mikhail Pogosyan, CEO of parent firm Sukhoi Aviation Holding, said Sunday in an interview. (Bloomberg)

AvtoVAZ Plans Share Sale

AvtoVAZ, Russia's biggest carmaker, will sell shares as part of a $3 billion fundraising plan that runs through 2012, CEO Boris Alyoshin said Saturday.

The size of the share sale will be decided in the fall, he told reporters. Renault bought a 25 percent stake in AvtoVAZ in December. (Bloomberg)

Chemezov Eying Udokan

Russian Technologies, headed by Sergei Chemezov, said Sunday that it might bid with Norilsk Nickel and Metalloinvest for the giant Udokan copper deposit, deputy chief executive Alexei Alyoshin told reporters Sunday.

Norilsk is bidding for Udokan alone and may seek partners if it wins the auction, Norilsk chief executive said Saturday. Vladimir Potanin, a Norilsk shareholder, and Metalloinvest owner Alisher Usmanov said May 28 that they would bid for Udokan. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil to Stabilize Output

LUKoil, the country's biggest independent oil producer, plans to stabilize falling output at its fields in western Siberia, after production fell in the first five months of the year, chief executive Vagit Alekperov said Saturday.

LUKoil is working to keep output in the region, which provides around 60 percent of its oil, from declining more than 1 percent this year, Alekperov told reporters. He said the company intended to boost total crude output by 1.2 percent to 1.7 percent, RIA-Novosti reported. (Bloomberg)

Usmanov's Aims Supported

Tom von Weymarn, chairman of TeliaSonera, Sweden's largest phone company, said Sunday that he supported billionaire Alisher Usmanov as an MegaFon shareholder.

"I believe we have mutual ambitions about the long-term future of the company," Von Weymarn told reporters.

Usmanov agreed last month to increase his stake to 73.9 percent in Telecominvest, which in turn controls 31.3 percent of MegaFon. TeliaSonera has a 26.1 percent stake in Telecominvest and 35.6 percent in MegaFon. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Sistema, the holding company that controls Mobile TeleSystems, is seeking to buy a company in France, its billionaire founder, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, said Saturday. (Bloomberg)

Russian Railways will sell shares of its TransCreditBank unit to the public, chief executive Vladimir Yakunin said Saturday. (Bloomberg)

Norilsk Nickel may add to its minority stake in regional utility TGK-14, chief executive Denis Morozov said Saturday. (Bloomberg)