Business in Brief

Coal Mines' Work Halted



The country's industrial-safety watchdog halted operations at two Siberian coal mines owned by Raspadskaya and SUEK because of violations of technological and environmental regulations.

Operations at SUEK's Yegozovskaya mine were halted for five days, while Raspadskaya's largest mine was closed until the court decision due Friday, the watchdog said in a statement dated Friday. The agency initiated inspections of 72 mines in the region on June 23 after a series of fatal accidents. (Bloomberg)




Alrosa Ups May Prices 25%



Russian rough diamond prices jumped as much as 25 percent this month compared with May because of rising demand from Indian gem polishers, an industry group said Friday.

State-owned miner Alrosa raised prices and cut domestic sales, the Russian Diamond Manufacturers' Association said. Alrosa increased the prices because of higher demand, while domestic sales continued to account for about 50 percent of its volume, Alrosa spokesman Andrei Polyakov said. (Bloomberg)




Ruble Corridor to Widen



The Central Bank plans to widen the range within which the ruble trades to discourage speculators, chairman Sergei Ignatyev said Friday.

"We're planning to widen the corridor to increase short-term ruble volatility," Ignatyev said after the annual meeting of Sberbank, where he is chairman of the supervisory board. (Bloomberg)




Acron Purchases Explorer



Acron, the country's third-largest producer of nitrogen-based fertilizers, bought 98 percent of Canadian potash exploration company Saskatchewan as it seeks to increase access to raw materials.

The company paid 61 million Canadian dollars ($60 million) for Saskatchewan, which holds 36 licenses to explore for the fertilizer ingredient in a 10,274-square- kilometer area, Acron said Thursday. (Bloomberg)




Banks Buy Telecoms Stakes



ST. PETERSBURG -- State banks including Sberbank and Gazprombank bought minority stakes in National Telecommunications, Vedomosti reported, citing company documents.

Gazprombank, Sberbank and VTB Group each bought 8.3 percent stakes, Vedomosti said. Representatives of the three banks on Thursday joined the company's board, the report said. The National Media Group, set up in February by billionaire Yury Kovalchuk, bought 51 percent of National Telecommunications in April for around $1.5 billion, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)




Anti-Monopoly Warning



One-fifth of Russian firms have no serious competitors, Vedomosti said Friday, citing a report by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.

More than half the violations of anti-monopoly law were committed by state corporations, which are opaque, receive unfair state support in the form of budget funds and transfer property without tenders, the newspaper said, citing the report. (Bloomberg)




For the Record



WCI Steel, an Ohio metals processor, on Friday won a judge's ruling that paves the way for its $140 million buyout by Severstal, Russia's largest steelmaker. (Bloomberg)

Billionaire Suleiman Kerimov retained control of the board of miner Polymetal on Friday after selling 68 percent of the company earlier this month. (Bloomberg)