Business in Brief

Steel Market Recovery?

The country's steel market may start to recover in the second quarter next year, Viktor Rashnikov, chairman and main owner of Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works, told the company's newspaper.

Prices have dropped 70 percent for scrap and 30 percent for ferroalloys and coking coal from September levels, Rashnikov said. Iron ore producers have not followed suit, he said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom's NIS Investment

Serbia will ask for more investments from Gazprom in its purchase of Naftna Industrija Srbije, Politika reported, citing people familiar with the talks.

Serbia is seeking increased capacity of the planned South Stream gas pipeline and for Gazprom to buy an additional 19.5 percent of NIS shares, the newspaper said. Serbian negotiators have also asked their Russian counterparts for 700 million euros in investments in the NIS oil refiner and retailer. (Bloomberg)

TMK in Refinancing Talks

Steel pipemaker TMK is in talks with state banks to refinance outstanding debt from its $1.2 billion purchase of IPSCO's U.S. assets, Deputy General Director Vladimir Shmatovich said Tuesday.

Shmatovich added TMK was also seeking to refinance 3 billion rubles ($109.4 million) of debt due in March 2009 as well as a roughly $300 million eurobond due in September. (Reuters)

State Buys Domestic Grain

The state bought 153,360 tons of domestic grain Tuesday in an effort to support prices.

The amount purchased on the National Mercantile Exchange includes 98,550 tons of third- and fourth-grade milling wheat and 39,420 tons of fodder-quality wheat, the bourse's web site showed.

The state pays 5,500 rubles ($200.53) a ton for third-grade milling wheat. (Bloomberg)

Sibur Asks VEB for Loan

Sibur Holding applied for a $100 million loan from state development bank Vneshekonombank to refinance existing debt, CEO Dmitry Konov said, Interfax reported.

The loan is equivalent to about 15 percent of the petrochemical producer's outstanding debt, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)

Aeroflot Passengers Up 12%

Aeroflot carried 774,400 passengers in October, 12 percent more than a year earlier, as more people flew domestically.

Traffic, or the number of passengers multiplied by the distance flown, also rose 12 percent in October, the company said Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Russian oil companies, including TNK-BP, plan to reduce exploration in 2009 because of the global credit crisis, the head of the Federal Subsoil Resource Use Agency said, Interfax reported, (Bloomberg)

LUKoil has no plans to cut staff and intends to raise total crude and gas output by "at least" 1 percent next year. (Bloomberg)

Telenor, the Nordic region's biggest phone company, said a Siberian court postponed the hearing of its appeal against a ruling that holds the company liable for $2.8 billion in damages. (Bloomberg)