Business in Brief

Mechel Buys German Trader

Mechel said Wednesday that it agreed to buy German metals trader HBL Holding after entering a bid for the company to the German anti-monopoly authorities earlier this month.

A spokesman declined to name the price of the deal, which was not given in the statement. As part of its bid, Mechel secured a one-year bridge loan for $1.5 billion organized by ABN Amro and Merrill Lynch. (Reuters)

Usmanov's Stake

ST. PETERSBURG -- Billionaire Alisher Usmanov's Digital Sky Technologies bought 15 percent of at the end of July to gain control of the web portal, Vedomosti reported Wednesday, citing a source with knowledge of the matter.

Usmanov paid $300 million for the stake, valuing the company at $2 billion. and Digital Sky Technologies declined to comment. (Bloomberg)

Piebalgs on Energy Ties

BRUSSELS -- The European Union should strengthen ties with Russia and bolster investment in Georgia to overcome recent tensions and ensure steady supplies of energy, the EU's energy chief said Wednesday.

EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said Russia's war with Georgia last month highlighted the need for progress on the proposed Nabucco and Nord Stream as pipelines into the EU. "We need bridges with Russia not isolation," Piebalgs said. (Reuters)

Chemezov in Airline Talks

Russian Technologies chief Viktor Chemezov said Wednesday that the state corporation was in talks to buy 40 percent of airline Atlant-Soyuz ahead of a planned merger with the AiRUnion alliance, Interfax reported.

Chemezov said Russian Technologies needed the shares "to participate in the company's management today," adding that Atlant-Soyuz had already been given traffic from the troubled AiRUnion alliance. (MT)

Rosneft Fined $9.1M

Rosneft was fined 229 million rubles ($9.1 million) for "abusing its dominant market position," as the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service stepped up a campaign against the country's largest oil companies.

Regulators concluded that Rosneft gave preference to a subsidiary over other oil product wholesalers, leading to a jump in prices in the Irkutsk region, the service said on its web site late Tuesday. Rosneft denied any wrongdoing. (Bloomberg)

Power Plant for Kaliningrad

Gazprom agreed to finance the expansion of a power plant in the Kaliningrad region to increase the self-sufficiency of the isolated exclave.

Chief executive Alexei Miller signed an agreement with his counterpart from state-run utility Inter RAO, Yevgeny Dod, in Kaliningrad on Wednesday, Gazprom said. (Bloomberg)

Greek Bank Eying Russia

ATHENS -- Piraeus Bank, Greece's fourth-largest lender, said Wednesday that it was looking to buy a small Russian bank, though a deal is not imminent.

Piraeus, also present in Bulgaria, Romania, Egypt, Serbia, Albania, Ukraine and the United States, said it would spend up to 100 million euros ($146 million) on the acquisition. Financial daily Imerisia reported that the group was "flirting" with Kedr Bank, which runs a network of 170 branches in Russia. (Reuters)