Business in Brief

New Kovykta Check



The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's environmental watchdog plans to check compliance at the east Siberian Kovykta gas field, which is led by TNK-BP, Interfax reported Tuesday.

It cited the head of the watchdog, Vladimir Kirillov, speaking in Moscow.

The ministry's subsoil agency had previously sought to revoke licenses to the field for underproduction. It stopped action after TNK-BP agreed to sell control of the field to Gazprom and a new production plan was presented a year ago, Interfax said.

TNK-BP and Gazprom have yet to complete their agreement for the sale of the field.

The Ministry of Natural Resources could not immediately confirm the report, spokesman Nikolai Gudkov said. TNK-BP officials were not immediately available for comment. (Bloomberg)




Uralkali Mulls Buyback



Uralkali, a potash producer owned by billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, is considering using cash earned from record fertilizer prices to buy back shares or boost dividends unless it can find suitable acquisitions.

Uralkali is studying its options after first-half profits more than tripled, Anna Batarina, investor relations chief, said during a conference call Tuesday. The company had 11.6 billion rubles ($468 million) in cash and cash equivalents as of June 30, and plans to pay out $356 million, or 61 percent of profits, as a first-half dividend. (Bloomberg)




Novolipetsk Seeks $2Bln



Novolipetsk Steel is seeking to borrow $2 billion from banks to finance the purchase of assets in the United States, according to a banker with knowledge of the plan.

The one-year loan will pay 1 percentage point more than the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, for the first four months, according to the banker, who declined to be identified before the deal is complete. It will pay 1.875 percentage points for the next four months and 2.75 percentage points thereafter.

Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale are arranging the loan, which will be offered to other lenders in late September or early October, according to the banker. (Bloomberg)




Landmark VAT Ruling



The Supreme Arbitration Court ruled in a case against oil firm Russneft that tax officials cannot bring claims for value-added tax against a company because of the activities of counterparties, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

The decision overrules a lower court, which found that Russneft bought oil from companies it controlled through a series of traders, rather than directly, the newspaper said. The ruling could affect several high-profile cases, including against mobile phone retailer Svyaznoi and electronics chain Eldorado, where VAT charges have been brought because of the questionable use of intermediaries, the report said. (MT)




Grain Harvest Up 37%



Russian farmers reaped 84.2 million tons of grain so far this season, 37 percent more than a year earlier, the Agriculture Ministry said Tuesday.

Farmers harvested 30.2 million hectares (74.6 million acres) of land, or 65 percent of the targeted area, as of today, the ministry said in an e-mailed statement. The average yield is 2.79 tons a hectare, or 23 percent more than a year ago. The figures are based on the so-called bunker weight, measured before the grain is cleaned and dried. (Bloomberg)