Putin Says 1,500 Firms To Get Aid

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday that 1,500 companies could receive financial support as part of government efforts to stabilize the economy.

Putin called for a list of companies eligible for assistance at the federal and regional levels to be confirmed by Dec. 17. The state may buy equity stakes in key companies, restructure tax debts and provide loans and guarantees, Putin said at a government meeting in comments broadcast by state television.

"This system we are creating must encompass no fewer than 1,500 Russian companies," Putin said.

Russia is deploying a bailout package worth about $200 billion after investors pulled $211 billion out of the country since August, according to BNP Paribas.

The measures must be "closely analyzed" so the companies "don't get hooked" on state handouts, Putin said.

Kudrin said the government has drawn up a list of around 300 companies that employ more than 4,000 people and have an output of more than 16 billion rubles a year that will get special consideration if they apply for financial help.

The economy of Russia, the world's biggest energy exporter, will contract in the first three quarters of next year as oil prices decline and the global credit freeze crimps investment, Barclays Capital said in a report.

Russia's industrial production fell an annual 8.7 percent in November, Interfax reported Monday, citing an unidentified government official. The statistics are scheduled to be released Tuesday.