Business in Brief

Polyus Shares Fall 14.7%

Polyus Gold swung to a net profit of $132.8 million in the first half as higher production and prices reversed a restated $75.5 million loss in the same year-earlier period, but its shares fell 14.7 percent on the MICEX.

Concerns that credit problems may stall new projects drove the stock down, and gold for immediately delivery Thursday fell 3.6 percent.

Polyus said in a statement that first-half revenue rose 63.5 percent to $505.7 million. (Reuters, Bloomberg)

SocGen's Pledge to Rosbank

Societe Generale has guaranteed to support and refinance the mortgage loans of Rosbank, which it bought this year, a Rosbank official said Thursday.

"It is beyond question that Societe Generale will definitely support all of our initiatives. This was confirmed at our last meeting in Paris," said Igor Antonov, first deputy chairman of Rosbank. "It was stated that if all of a sudden something inordinate happens, the group will support [Rosbank] no matter what." (Reuters)

Alfa Bank Sues RTM

Alfa Bank has filed a lawsuit that seeks to recover $10.6 million from real estate developer RTM, a Russian court said Thursday.

The suit alleges that RTM failed to comply with a loan agreement it signed with Alfa Bank. "Alfa Bank plans to recover RTM's property pledged [as collateral] on loans. It is planned to seize real estate that belongs to RTM in the near future," a source at Alfa Bank said. RTM denied the allegations, saying, "We attribute this to the current situation in the banking sector." (Reuters)

Maslov Quits Post at TNP

Sergei Maslov, president of refined-product pipeline monopoly Transnefteprodukt, has quit to focus on managing the country's new commodities exchange, TNP said Thursday.

TNP spokesman Timur Khakimov said Maslov would retain the post of president of the St. Petersburg commodities exchange, to which he was appointed this April. Vladimir Karamanov, previously first vice president, has been appointed acting president. (Reuters)

Integra to Drill for TNK-BP

Oil-field services provider Integra Group said Thursday that it signed long-term cooperation agreements with TNK-BP.

Integra plans to drill 129 development wells and conduct 63 "sidetrack operations" for TNK-BP through 2010, the company said. (Bloomberg)

Belarussian Tax Overhaul

MINSK -- Belarus gave initial approval Thursday to next year's budget, which will overhaul the tax system and reduce the deficit to 1.8 percent from 1.9 percent in 2008.

The draft, still to be passed in a second reading, got rid of a graduated income tax system of between 9 to 30 percent. Instead, there is to be a flat rate of 12 percent. The draft indicates that Minsk wants to try to borrow $200 million abroad next year to cover a deficit of $1.4 billion. (Reuters)

Novatek Buys Back GDRs

Novatek said Thursday that it completed a $16.5 million buyback of London-traded Global Depositary Receipts.

The gas producer bought them via a fully owned unit, the company said. The GDRs won't be canceled. Its shareholders also approved a 20 percent increase in the first-half dividend to 1 ruble a share, Interfax reported Thursday. (Bloomberg)