Business in Brief

Russian FDI Falls 30%

Foreign direct investment fell 30 percent in the first six months of the year as investors avoided emerging markets in the global credit crunch.

Direct investment totaled $11.1 billion, while total foreign investment, including credits and flows into the securities markets, was $46.5 billion, 22.9 percent less than a year earlier, the State Statistics Service said in an e-mailed statement Friday. Foreign investment in stocks and bonds rose 4.4 percent to $1.2 billion, it said. (Bloomberg)

Morgan Stanley Upbeat

Investors should add to their holdings of Russian stocks because they trade at a significant "discount" even as the country faces the risk of U.S. sanctions and falling commodity prices, Morgan Stanley said.

The MSCI Russia Index currently trades at a 33 percent discount to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index based on the price of its constituent stocks compared with their estimated earnings, the U.S. investment bank said in a note dated Thursday. It's the highest discount Russian stocks have had since the Kremlin's tax claims against Yukos. (Bloomberg)

MTS Makes Bid for Smarts

Mobile TeleSystems has applied to the federal Anti-Monopoly Service to buy Smarts, a regional mobile operator.

MTS notified the anti-monopoly service it is seeking to acquire the company, the service said in a statement posted on its web site Friday. (Bloomberg)

Surgut Profit Up 70%

Surgutneftegaz said second-quarter profit advanced 70 percent on high oil prices.

Net income increased to 53.1 billion rubles ($2.17 billion), from 31.2 billion rubles a year earlier, the Surgut-based company said in a statement to Russian accounting standards on its web site Thursday. Revenue fell 3 percent to 180.1 billion rubles.

Surgut's profit grew on higher realized prices, lower operating expenses and a lower than expected effective tax rate, Citigroup analyst Alexander Korneyev said in a note to investors. (Bloomberg)

Norilsk Hires Ex-Banker

Norilsk Nickel, Russia's largest mining company, hired former HSBC banker Adrian Coates to advise on strategy and potential acquisitions.

Coates has worked on initial public offerings for Billiton and Vedanta Resources and advised Mittal Steel on its acquisition of Arcelor, Norilsk said Friday in an e-mailed statement. (Bloomberg)

Stallone to Sell Vodka

Synergy, Russia's only publicly traded distiller, has hired Sylvester Stallone to appear in advertisements for its vodka.

The first televised ads for Russky Lyod, or Russian Ice, to feature the U.S. actor will be broadcast locally on cable television in the fall, company spokesman Prokhor Malyutin said Friday by telephone. Print ads will run in newspapers at the end of the month, he said.

Synergy plans to spend $70 million on advertising this year and in 2009 to increase its share of the Russian vodka market.

Synergy's contract with Stallone is close to $1 million, Kommersant reported Friday, citing the distiller's chief executive officer, Alexander Mechetin. (Bloomberg)