Business in Brief

Prokhorov Suit Considered

Shareholders in a power firm said Thursday that they were considering lawsuits against Mikhail Prokhorov over the withdrawal of a share buyout offer worth up to $1 billion.

Prokhorov's Onexim Group was obliged to make a buyout offer at 2.7 kopeks per share of TGK-4 after acquiring control in May. Cyprus-registered Onexim says it was unable to complete the "mandatory" offer because TGK-4 was added to a list of natural monopolies by the Federal Tariffs Service. (Reuters)

State Aviation Head Resigns

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accepted the resignation of Federal Aviation Agency head Yevgeny Bachurin, the government said Thursday.

Bachurin will be replaced by Gennady Kurzenkov, formerly the deputy director of the Gagarin Air Force Academy, the government said.

High fuel prices have caused problems for domestic carriers, resulting in last month's government bailout of AiRUnion. Nine airlines will be grounded by the end of the week because of overdue debts, aviation authorities said Wednesday. (MT)

Medvedev on Jet Fuel Prices

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the government to investigate a possible cartel among aviation fuel suppliers, whose pricing policy has grounded dozens of planes and left thousands of passengers stranded.

"We cannot tolerate the situation any longer," Medvedev said in televised comments. "Those could be fines, but if any criminal action is proven, criminal persecution should be used." (Reuters)

State to Aid Carmakers

AvtoVAZ said the government pledged to bolster the domestic car industry.

The heads of Russian car companies urged Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin to take "immediate action to support the domestic automotive industry" at a meeting yesterday in Tolyatti, AvtoVAZ said. The government agreed to place orders for cars, trucks and buses in the next three years to counter declining sales, AvtoVAZ said. (Bloomberg)

Ruble Hits 20-Month Low

The ruble fell to its lowest level in 20 months versus the dollar Thursday, raising the prospect of the country's first budget deficit in a decade.

The currency's decline challenges the Central Bank's efforts to support the ruble by spending its reserves. The ruble fell as much as 0.6 percent to 26.41 per dollar, the weakest since Feb. 13, 2007, from 26.25 Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

Usmanov Seeks VTB Loan

Alisher Usmanov is seeking to borrow from VTB Group to refinance a loan from Dresdner Bank, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

The VTB loan would be used to regain 1.5 percent of Gazprom shares that were pledged as collateral with Dresdner, Usmanov told the newspaper. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Sistema-Hals said it has $1.2 billion of debt and is reviewing investment plans because of the financial crisis. (Bloomberg)

Sibir Energy will buy refining, marketing and real estate assets from its main shareholders, departing from its usual areas of business. (Bloomberg)

Norilsk Nickel is reviewing its operations in Australia because of market conditions. (Bloomberg)