Business in Brief

Duma Passes Oil Duty Plan

The State Duma approved a new scheme of calculating oil export duties Friday to help producers curtail losses in a period of rapidly falling crude prices.

The bill says the export duty for oil and refined products will be set monthly, instead of once every two months, and will be based on the average price for Urals crude monitored over a period of one month rather than two. (Reuters)

Banks Warned on State Aid

Russian banks that convert government aid into foreign currency rather than lending to troubled companies may lose access to state funding, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said.

The government has prepared a draft law giving the Central Bank additional power to oversee the banks' spending, Shuvalov said Friday. (Bloomberg)

ONGC Sees $100 Oil Again

Oil & Natural Gas Corp. said oil would rebound to $100 a barrel, twice the current level, justifying a proposed ?1.4 billion ($2.1 billion) bid for Britain's Imperial Energy by India's biggest energy explorer.

Imperial shares have fallen 15 percent below ONGC's offer price on investor concern that the bid may fail or be lowered. (Bloomberg)

Loan Conditions Loosened

Banks with ratings from domestic agencies RusRating and Expert RA can apply for unsecured loans, the Central Bank said Friday, in a move aimed at boosting liquidity.

Banks with a minimum rating of BB- from RusRating or B++ from Expert RA can apply for funds, the statement said. (Bloomberg)

AvtoVAZ Sees Higher Sales

AvtoVAZ expects 2008 sales to exceed last year's, CEO Boris Alyoshin said, Interfax reported.

The company will complete a plan with Renault SA by the end of this year on the joint production of new models, Alyoshin said. (Bloomberg)

KamAZ's Cuba Factory?

KamAZ may build an assembly factory in Cuba as Russia continues to expand economic cooperation with Latin America.

KamAZ is in talks with Cuban officials about creating a plant that will produce 500 trucks a year, the company said Friday. (Bloomberg)

PIK Closes Ukraine Unit

PIK Group has suspended operations in the Ukraine because of the global financial crisis, Interfax reported.

PIK closed its Ukraine office to concentrate on other priorities, said Vladimir Kochetkov- Sukach, deputy director of PIK's Ukraine unit. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom's Fogaz Stake?

Gazprom is in talks to buy a stake of Budapest's gas distributor Fogaz, Nepszabadsag newspaper said, without saying where it got the information.

The municipality owns 50 percent plus one share in Fogaz with RWE, Germany's second-largest utility, holding the rest. (Bloomberg)

ChTPZ Cut Shipments 17%

ChTPZ Group, a producer of pipes for the oil and gas industry, cut shipments for the first 10 months of the year by 17 percent on weakening demand.

The group shipped 735,500 tons of pipes, compared with 888,500 tons a year earlier, the company said Friday. (Bloomberg)