Business in Brief

Gazprom, TNK-BP Fines?



The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service may fine Gazprom Neft and TNK-BP for violating competition rules.

The companies could be fined 1 billion rubles ($40 million) for abusing their dominant position and driving up oil prices, the regulator said Thursday. (Bloomberg)




VTB's Hiring Freeze



VTB Group will introduce a hiring freeze as part of a plan "to weather" the financial crisis.

The bank will focus "rigorously" on risk management and risk control, halt new hiring and delay a move to a new office in Moscow until 2010, VTB said Thursday. (Bloomberg)




Morozov for TNK-BP CEO?



Denis Morozov, former head of Norilsk Nickel, has a solid chance to become CEO of TNK-BP, Viktor Vekselberg, a main shareholder in the oil major, said Thursday.

Vekselberg also said the sale of the Siberian Kovykta gas field to Gazprom would come by the end of this month. (Reuters)




S7 Gives Up Austrian Bid



Germany's Lufthansa is now the exclusive bidder for state-controlled, loss-making Austrian Airlines, and a deal could come within a month, Austrian state holding company OeIAG said Thursday.

A bid by S7, the last one competing with Lufthansa after Air France-KLM dropped out of the race last month, did not comply with the rules of the tender, OeIAG said. (Reuters)




Onexim's Reputation



Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Holdings, the biggest investor in TGK-4, "risks losing its reputation" after halting a buyout offer to other shareholders, Anatoly Chubais said.

Onexim and Sintez, which also stopped a buyout in the TGK-2 utility, may lose investor support, Chubais, former CEO of Unified Energy Systems, which sold TGK-2 and TGK-4, said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)




Ruble Falls May Continue



The ruble may be allowed to extend its declines should the global economic crisis deepen, said Arkady Dvorkovich, an economic adviser to President Dmitry Medvedev.

The decision to let it weaken 1 percent this week was "not a mistake," Dvorkovich said Thursday. "The Central Bank is taking steps that are adequate to the current situation." (Bloomberg)




Repsol Seen Staying Spanish



Repsol chairman Antonio Brufau said Thursday that he wants the energy company to remain "private, independent and Spanish" after speculation soared over a possible purchase of a stake by Gazprom.

His comments echoed those of Spanish Finance Minister Pedro Solbes, who said, "The idea of privatizing Spanish companies and them being bought by state-run firms deeply concerns me." (Bloomberg)




For the Record



Evraz has secured a one-year loan for 10 billion rubles ($364 million) from state-controlled VTB, the miner said in a statement Thursday. (Reuters)

Egypt and Novatek renewed an agreement giving Novatek exploration rights for two more years in the North African nation. (Bloomberg)