Business in Brief

Inter RAO Favors EdF

Inter RAO, which operates Russia's power trading operations, said Thursday that it wanted to invite Electricite de France to be the first French strategic investor in Russia's power sector.

Inter RAO is and will remain under state control. On Thursday, it had a market debut as some private investors sold their shares on the MICEX, creating a free float of 12 percent. (Reuters)

Alcoa Antitrust Investigation

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service began investigating U.S. aluminum maker Alcoa for possibly abusing its monopoly position on some products.

The investigation comes after a complaint on 2007 and 2008 prices from Oboronpromcomplex, a Russian arms maker, the service said in a statement. Alcoa, the world's third-largest aluminum company, acquired two Russian plants four years ago. (Bloomberg)

$2.5Bln Radio Investment?

Russia needs to spend 58 billion rubles ($2.5 billion) to convert its radio-frequency spectrum to make it available to civilian users such as mobile-phone operators and boost the use of telecoms services, Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev said Thursday.

Around 97 percent of the spectrum is in the hands of the military and law enforcement agencies, which do not use it to the fullest extent, he said, adding that the sale of frequencies could help finance conversion. (Bloomberg)

Customs Planning Overhaul

The Federal Customs Service will present a plan for overhauling the customs system Aug. 1, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

The proposal will call for the majority of goods to be processed on the border, not at customs posts inside the country, the paper said. Sergei Shokhin, deputy head of the customs service, described the planned changes to members of the Association of European Business, Vedomosti said. (Bloomberg)

78% of SDM-Bank Bought

JERUSALEM -- Bank Hapoalim, Israel's biggest bank by assets, on Thursday agreed to buy a 78 percent stake in SDM-Bank for $111 million.

Buying a controlling interest in the bank meets "one of the most important objectives, which is to increase the bank's international activity," Hapoalim chairman Dan Dankner said. (Bloomberg)

Federal Grid Undervalued?

The Federal Grid Company, which controls Russia's electricity network, may be worth twice as much as its current market value, Renaissance Capital said Thursday.

The brokerage and investment bank said the Federal Grid Co. may trade in line with state-owned oil-pipeline operator Transneft. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Gazprom Neft said Thursday that it was interested in acquiring 49 percent of Kazakh oil producer MangistauMunaiGas. (Bloomberg)

Real estate company LSR said Wednesday that it had acquired Nova-Stroi, a property developer in Yekaterinburg, for 100 million euros ($159.5 million). (Reuters)

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs said Thursday that the country should host the headquarters of an OPEC-like gas cartel and sell oil in rubles to help achieve the Kremlin's desire to make Moscow a global financial center. (Reuters)