Business in Brief

MT Publisher Appeals Suit

United Press, the parent company of The Moscow Times, has appealed a court ruling ordering the newspaper to pay 1000 rubles to billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and publish a retraction, the company's legal adviser said Thursday.

The court ruled in favor of Prokhorov in his defamation case against former business partner Vladimir Potanin and The Moscow Times in October, ordering the defendants to pay 1,000 rubles each. (MT)

RZD Shipping to Fall 19%

Russian Railways plans to cut shipments by 19 percent in 2009 instead of the initially planned 6 percent, a source close to the company told Interfax.

"RZD is revising its plan for next year with a 19 percent reduction in cargo shipments. Based on this, the company will revise its investment program and business plan," the source said. (MT)

Aricom Curbs Mining

Aricom suspended sales of preconcentrate from the Kuranakh iron-ore project in the Far East after prices plunged and said it would curb mining to cut costs.

The Olekma plant, due to be commissioned in mid-2009, divides the preconcentrate into higher-margin iron ore and ilmenite concentrates, Aricom said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Lebedev Wants All Aeroflot

Billionaire Alexander Lebedev asked the government to grant his takeover of state-run Aeroflot in exchange for his other airline industry assets, Kommersant said.

Lebedev, who owns 30 percent of Russia's biggest airline, proposed that Aeroflot sell him new shares that would dilute the 50.1 percent controlled by the state, the newspaper said, citing a letter Lebedev sent to First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. (Bloomberg)

Serbia Requires Pipeline

Serbia, negotiating the sale of state oil refiner Naftna Industrija Srbije to Gazprom, said the Russian company must commit to running its planned South Stream gas pipeline through the Balkan country in order to reach a deal.

Serbian and Gazprom officials led by CEO Alexei Miller were to meet in Belgrade on Friday to discuss the deal. (Bloomberg)

Ruble Reaches New Low

The ruble dropped to the lowest level in almost three years against the dollar on Thursday.

The currency weakened as much as 0.6 percent to 28.07 per dollar, the lowest since March 2006. (Bloomberg)

VTB Gives Carmakers Loans

VTB Group agreed to lend automakers KamAZ and Sollers a total of 11 billion rubles ($393 million).

VTB opened a credit line of 7 billion rubles for KamAZ and loaned Sollers 4 billion rubles for one year, it said Thursday (Bloomberg).

For the Record

Belarus' central bank said Wednesday that it had advised commercial banks to inform the police about anyone who approaches branch customers expressing doubts about the business in a way that could cause panic. (Reuters)

Rosgosstrakh needs to raise 43 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) by selling new shares after it lost money on the stock market and accumulated a 12.3 billion ruble debt, Vedomosti reported. (Bloomberg)