Business in Brief

Gas to Europe Hits $500

Gazprom, on the eve of critical talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, said Wednesday that its export price for Europe reached an all-time high of more than $500 per 1,000 cubic meters.

It amounted to serving notice to Tymoshenko that she would get no easy ride in her bid to secure a deal to shield Ukrainian industry from an abrupt increase to market levels. "I hope that we can sign the agreement, but I would be cautious about any predictions," Tymoshenko said in Kiev. (Reuters)

Liquidity Auction Canceled

The Finance Ministry canceled an auction of up to 300 billion rubles ($11.7 billion) of budget funds Wednesday because of a lack of demand from commercial banks.

The money had been on offer for a week, but the placement was not held because of insufficient demand. The country's one-week Mosprime rate stood at 7.22 percent Wednesday -- offering institutions cheaper funding than the auction, at which the minimum rate was 8 percent. (Reuters)

Sberbank Raises Rates

Sberbank said Wednesday that it raised interest rates on retail loans as its own borrowing costs have soared.

With 32 percent of the retail lending market, Sberbank's move will impact millions of Russians by increasing rates by 0.25 to 2.25 percentage points. Other consumer banks tend to follow Sberbank's lead in adjusting their lending conditions. (Reuters)

RZD Backs Off Bonds

Russian Railways said Wednesday that it would "hold off" on selling $7 billion of 30-year bonds.

"If someone says the crisis doesn't affect him, that means he's dead," CEO Vladimir Yakunin said. The company had planned to sell $600 million of eurobonds by the end of 2008. (Bloomberg)

Sibir Stake Not for Sale

Billionaire Shalva Chigirinsky said Wednesday that his exploration company Sibir Energy might expand projects with Royal Dutch Shell.

He denied a report that said Shell was poised to buy a holding in Sibir this year. "We aren't selling a stake," he said. Sibir may offer Shell an expanded partnership in the exploration of the Koltogorsky fields or fuel retail network expansion, he said. (Bloomberg)

$191Bln Transport Plan

The government plans to spend 4.9 trillion rubles ($191 billion) on improving Moscow's transportation system between 2010 and 2015, the Transportation Ministry said Wednesday.

The federal government will finance 2.3 trillion of the total, Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said in a report on the ministry's web site. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Rosneft was fined 95 million rubles for "abusing its dominant market position" after complaints about its pricing practices for gasoline and diesel fuel on Sakhalin, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

Shareholders in RBC are seeking a strategic investor to help maintain a rapid pace of growth, a source familiar with the company's plans said Wednesday. (Reuters)

Polyus Gold and Polymetal said Wednesday that the global financial crisis was forcing many Russian miners to sell assets to survive. (Reuters)