Business in Brief

RZD Says Costs Rising



Russian Railways said Thursday that its costs rose nearly twice as fast as its prices in the first six months of 2008.

Russian Railways said its operating costs rose 21.3 percent in the first half, while its ticket rates increased by 11.6 percent. The cost increases were fueled by a 24 percent increase in the price of ferrous metals, which Russian Railways said accounted for 55 percent of materials it consumes.

Russian Railways raised the wages of its 1.3 million workers by 12 percent from last month. Before that, train drivers, demanding wages be doubled, had threatened a strike that could have paralyzed rail networks across the country. (Reuters)




Georgia Says Pipe Attacked



BP-operated oil pipeline that passes through Georgia to the Black Sea port of Supsa was struck by Russian missiles Wednesday, the Georgian government said Thursday.

A second link that carries oil from Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, known as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, will reopen in a week after a fire earlier this month, Turkey's Energy Ministry said.

Two Russian Iskander missiles hit the Baku-Supsa pipeline southeast of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Economy Minister Eka Sharashidze said. BP, which runs the 100,000 pipeline, stopped shipments after pressure fell, she said. Russia denied bombing the pipeline. (Bloomberg)




No Plans on Hummer Buy



Billionaire Oleg Deripaska's Russian Machines business has "no strategic plans" to pursue an acquisition of General Motors's Hummer sport utility vehicle unit.

Russian Machines has been receiving media inquiries regarding its possible interest in buying the Hummer brand, and "has not received any proposals to consider such an acquisition," the company said. (Bloomberg)




X5's International Talks



X5 Retail Group, the country's largest supermarket chain, is in talks with international retailers about possible partnerships to open stores in the country.

X5 is "in consultations with large international operators" about jointly opening wholesale food outlets, said Anna Kareva, head of investor relations at X5. Kareva declined to name any companies. (Bloomberg)




SUEK Gas-Fired Generator



Siberian Coal and Power Company, the country's biggest coal producer, plans to build three methane-fired power plants at its mines to improve safety and cut emissions, enabling the company to apply for carbon credits.

The producer installed a 1-megawatt capacity power plant at the Kirov mine it operates in the Kuzbass region, said SUEK, as the company is also known. Two more will be added at the Kirov pit. (Bloomberg)




Chemezov Wants VAT Cut



ST. PETERSBURG -- Sergei Chemezov, chief executive of state holding company Russian Technologies, has urged a cut in the value-added tax to 12 percent from the average rate of 18 percent to support the engineering industry, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

The reduction would bolster domestic producers and save the industry 300 billion rubles ($12 billion), the newspaper said, citing a letter signed by Chemezov from the Engineering Union to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. (Bloomberg)