Business in Brief

SPI Considers New Partner

SPI Group, owner of Stolichnaya vodka outside Russia, may seek a new partner to distribute the spirit after an agreement with Pernod Ricard ends, minority investor and former general director Andrei Skurikhin said Monday.

SPI may also form a joint venture with a distributor or distribute the vodka itself, Skurikhin said. He denied a report in The Wall Street Journal that SPI hired Lehman Brothers to explore a possible sale of Stolichnaya. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom to Spend $420Bln

Gazprom said Monday that it planned to spend as much as 10 trillion rubles ($420 billion) by 2020 to bring more natural gas to market.

About half of that investment will go to transportation and up to 30 percent toward production, said Sergei Pankratov, Gazprom's deputy head of strategic development. (Bloomberg)

Economy Grew 8.5% in Q1

The economy expanded an annual 8.5 percent in the first quarter, the second-fastest pace since 2000, as companies invested in their businesses to keep up with demand for consumer goods and new apartments.

The growth rate followed an advance of 9.5 percent in the previous three months, the State Statistics Service said Monday. (Bloomberg)

Norilsk Barge Sinks

Norilsk Nickel said Monday that a barge carrying 2,822 tons of copper sank at the Dudinka port in the Arctic.

The vessel broke in two on Sunday while being loaded with metal for the local market, spokeswoman Yelena Kovalyova said. (Bloomberg)

Uralkali Shares Hit Record

Potash maker Uralkali climbed to a record in Moscow trading after corn prices reached an all-time high amid flooding in the United States.

Uralkali jumped 22.79 rubles, or 7 percent, to 349.55 rubles on the MICEX exchange. (Bloomberg)

TMK Buys Kazakh Rival

TMK, the world's second-largest maker of pipes for the oil and gas industry, said Monday that it acquired Kazakh rival Kaztrubprom to expand output of "high-technology" products.

Kaztrubprom, which has a capacity of 60,000 tons per year, will help strengthen TMK in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, TMK said. TMK did not say what it paid for Kaztrubprom. (Bloomberg)

Mystery OGK-1 Suitor

A mystery suitor has registered for a data room to be opened for potential buyers of OGK-1, the last big asset to be sold by Unified Energy System before its breakup, a source close to the company said Monday.

A company called Roskommunenergo registered for the data room, identifying it as a possible buyer for OGK-1. Russian media have identified it as a Dubai fund and a group of former Kremlin bureaucrats. (Reuters)

Prokhorov in Copper Bid

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has launched a bid for the right to develop the huge Udokan copper field, his Onexim Group investment vehicle said Monday.

Onexim is currently in talks with possible partners in the project, spokesman Igor Petrov said. The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will hold a tender for the Udokan field -- one of the world's largest untapped copper deposits -- on Aug. 14. (Reuters)