Business in Brief

GDP Growth Falls to 6.9%

VTB said Thursday that the gross domestic product growth rate dropped for the first time this year in August, basing its conclusions on the manufacturing and services sectors.

The rate slowed to 6.9 percent from a 17-month high of 7.2 percent year on year in July, London-based VTB Europe said in a research note. The government, based on a wider selection of industries, registered that the GDP began slowing in April. (MT)

Bridge to Russky Island

ST. PETERSBURG -- President Dmitry Medvedev chose a contractor to build a $1 billion bridge off the country's Pacific coast, the Primorye regional government said Thursday.

Closely held Moscow-based builder USK Most will connect the city of Vladivostok with Russky Island via a 3.2-kilometer suspension bridge, according to a statement on the region's web site.

Vladivostok will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012. The federal government plans to spend 100 billion rubles ($4 billion) on 42 infrastructure projects needed to host the summit, the statement said. About 6,000 people live on the island. (Bloomberg)

Sberbank to Raise $1.2Bln

LONDON -- Sberbank said Thursday that it would soon begin syndication of a $1.2 billion three-year term loan to be used for general corporate purposes.

The loan, which Sberbank has hired 12 banks to arrange, pays a margin of 85 basis points over the London interbank offered rate, a significant premium on the 45 basis points that Sberbank paid on its previous deal -- a $750 million, three-year loan arranged in December. (Reuters)

Russia to Boost Japan Ties

ST. PETERSBURG -- Russia is seeking to expand economic ties with Japan to diversify its trade, Alexander Shokhin, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said Thursday.

The country has had some recent "difficulties" with the United States and the European Union, he told a Russia-Japan investment conference. "This is motivating Russia to diversify its economic relations." (Bloomberg)

Yamal-Europe Back on Line

Gas shipments through the Yamal-Europe pipeline resumed Wednesday following maintenance work in Poland and Germany, Gazprom said Thursday.

"At the current moment, all consumer orders are being filled," the company said. The Yamal-Europe gas pipeline carries Russian gas from western Siberia to European markets through Belarus. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Neft in Astana

Gazprom Neft said Thursday that it might develop oil and gas projects with Kazakh state-owned KazMunaiGaz.

Gazprom Neft chief executive Alexander Dyukov held talks Thursday with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov in Astana about cooperation in exploring and developing fields in Russia and Kazakhstan, the prime minister's office said in a statement. (Bloomberg)

Exchange to Trade Jet Fuel

The St. Petersburg International Commodities Exchange said Thursday that it would begin trading contracts for diesel and jet fuel this month.

"Huge work has been conducted to begin the first trades," Sergei Maslov, the head of the exchange, said in a statement. (Bloomberg)