Business in Brief

Banks to Fund Repsol Stake

LUKoil has agreed with banks on raising a major loan that will allow it to purchase a significant stake in Spanish energy major Repsol, government and industry sources said on Sunday.

"I know that LUKoil has closed the deal to attract money for Repsol," said a government source, who asked not to be identified. He did not give the size of the loan, neither did he say whether it was a foreign or a Russian loan.

A LUKoil spokesman denied the company had raised the loan: "It is not true," he said, declining further comment. (Reuters)

3 Lenders Lose Licenses

The Central Bank said Friday that it had withdrawn the operating licenses of three more banks, Setevoi Neftyanoi bank, ZelAK bank and Baltkredobank, citing their lack of liquidity.

The Central Bank has now withdrawn around 15 banking licenses since the end of August as mistrust and a liquidity crisis hit Russia's 1,000-plus banking sector. The lenders were unable to meet creditors' demands and provided unreliable reports to the regulator, the Central Bank said. (Reuters)

Lebedev Gets Margin Call

Alexander Lebedev's National Reserve Corporation said the company's blocking stake in Aeroflot is not vulnerable to a margin call after the airline's shares fell 67 percent this year.

The Moscow-based holding company owes Deutsche Bank $23 million, which it borrowed using 3 percent of Aeroflot as collateral. National Reserve has applied to Deutsche Bank and Vnesheconombank for refinancing, it Reserve said in a statement Saturday. (Bloomberg)

Ruble Could Fall Further

The ruble will drop further because oil prices are declining and the Central Bank will continue with the current pace of devaluation, said Arkady Dvorkovich, economics adviser to President Dmitry Medvedev.

With commodity prices "at the current levels, it's pretty certain that the depreciation will continue at the rate it is moving at now," Dvorkovich said in an interview on Friday. (Bloomberg)

Rosneft Wants Oil Reserve

Rosneft said the state should consider creating an oil reserve as an alternative to production cuts suggested by OPEC.

The state should establish a complex of "reservoirs, underground storage and a reserve fund of oil fields," chief executive Sergei Bogdanchikov said Friday. Asking oil producers to stop and start output involves large capital expenditure, he added. (Bloomberg)

Duma Approves Pipeline

The State Duma voted unanimously on Friday to ratify the pipeline deal with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. The Central Asian-Russian pipeline should "significantly weaken the competitive position of alternative projects."

A planned natural gas pipeline will help Russia preserve its dominance over exports from Central Asia and weaken a Western-backed, rival project, the Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said Friday. (AP)

For the Record

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russian Railways and other so-called natural monopolies may be compensated next year after the government curbed increases in state-regulated prices, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)