Business in Brief

Carrefour's Southern Stores



SOCHI -- French hypermarket chain Carrefour said Saturday that it would spend up to $100 million building new stores in southern Russia, with the first to open in 2009.

The investment will be made over five years, it said. A Carrefour spokesman declined to comment on reports that it was competing with Wal-Mart to buy local retail chain Lenta. (Reuters)




Shell's New Exploration Plan



SOCHI -- Royal Dutch Shell plans a new exploration project in Russia and is considering three oil fields in Kalmykia in the Urals as possible sites, a source familiar with the plans said Friday.

"The fields require deep drilling, over six kilometers," the source said. Shell's representative in Russia declined to comment. (Reuters)




Sechin Praises Alekperov



Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said Sunday that LUKoil CEO Vagit Alekperov had "made a very correct move" by boosting his stake in the company amid the current financial crisis, Gazeta.ru reported.

"Of course, for our publicly traded companies … this has been an unpleasant, we'll say, period," Sechin said in comments on Vesti television.

Alekperov's investment shows that "experienced experts" are active on the market both when it is rising and falling and that Alekperov was confident that LUKoil is developing, Sechin said. (MT)




Shmatko on OPEC Ties



Russia is considering renewed ties with OPEC, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said Friday, a move that could rattle nerves among energy consuming nations.

Shmatko said Moscow would send a high-level delegation to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' next meeting in Algeria on Dec. 17.

"The prospects of cooperation in a new format between OPEC and Russia are very interesting," Shmatko told reporters. (Reuters)




Short-Selling Ban Reviewed



The country's markets watchdog said Friday that it would review the possibility of lifting a ban on short-selling and margin trading.

The ban was enforced Wednesday, after a sharp sell-off.

"After the close of trading on Sept. 19, 2008, we will consult market participants," the watchdog said in a statement. It added that if a decision were made to resume such operations either fully or partially, any resumption would be announced a day in advance. (Reuters)




RusHydro's Borrowing Plans



RusHydro plans to borrow $500 million next year for development, acting CEO Vasily Zubakin said Saturday, RIA-Novosti reported.

The loans will be "entirely acceptable" for the hydropower producer, Zubakin said in Sochi. (Bloomberg)




State Boosts Stake in UAC



ST. PETERSBURG -- The government on Friday bought a 6 billion ruble ($235 million) stake in the United Aircraft Corporation to increase its control of the state aerospace group.

The United Aircraft Corporation said it sold 5.3 billion new shares to the Federal Property Management Agency for 1 ruble each through a closed subscription, boosting the government's stake to 91.34 percent from 90.9 percent. (Bloomberg)