Business in Brief

Gazprom's Stake in Oil Unit

Gazprom said Thursday that it would exercise an option to buy a 20 percent stake in its crude oil unit, Gazprom Neft, from Italy's Eni.

The acquisition will cost about $4 billion, said Andrei Kruglov, Gazprom's chief financial officer. (Bloomberg)

Bill on Caspian, Azov Oil

The State Duma's Budget and Taxes Committee on Thursday recommended adding oil and gas fields in the Caspian and Azov seas to the list of deposits that will enjoy tax breaks from 2009.

The committee documents said tax breaks would apply for 10 years, or until 35 million tons of crude is produced from an Arctic Sea field, for seven years, or until 10 million tons is produced from an Azov or Caspian field, and for seven years or until 15 million tons is produced on a Yamal-Nenets field. (Reuters)

Putin Wants to See Chavez

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he was looking forward to meeting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Moscow again to discuss Russian energy and infrastructure interests.

Putin made the comments to visiting Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizales but did not name a date for a visit by Chavez, who earlier this year postponed a trip to Moscow. (Reuters)

Sistema Posts Q1 Loss

Sistema, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's holding company, said Thursday that first-quarter profit fell 47 percent after the sale of its insurance unit a year earlier.

Net income dropped to $398.7 million from $746 million a year earlier under U.S. accounting rules, the company said. (Bloomberg)

RTS Considers Earlier Start

ST. PETERSBURG -- The RTS, the country's second-biggest stock exchange, is considering opening earlier to make trading more accessible across the country's 11 time zones.

"The market is practically closed for the parts of Russia located east of Krasnoyarsk," RTS chairman Roman Goryunov said Thursday, referring to a Siberian city four hours ahead of Moscow. "If we are aspiring to be an international financial center, the idea of introducing morning trading is very timely," Goryunov said. (Bloomberg)

Capital Inflow Estimate

The Central Bank estimates capital inflow will equal outflow in the first half of the year, Interfax reported Thursday.

Net capital inflow is likely to be "small" in June and will probably equal zero in the first half, Central Bank first deputy chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said, the news agency reported. (Bloomberg)

Wallpaper Joint Venture

BERLIN -- A.S. Creation Tapeten, Germany's biggest wallpaper maker, said Thursday that it would set up a joint venture in Russia to bolster its presence in the East European market.

The 50-50 venture with closely held Kof Palitra will probably be based near Moscow and cost 25 million euros ($39 million) to 30 million euros, A.S. Creation said. (Bloomberg)

Oil Funds Invested in Gold?

The country's oil funds may invest in gold, a Finance Ministry official said Thursday, RIA-Novosti reported.

It was "unlikely" that the funds would invest in precious stones and metals, said Pyotr Kazakevich, deputy chief of the ministry's international finance department, the agency reported. "But gold -- why not?" he said. (Bloomberg)