Business in Brief

Crude Exports Increase

Russian crude oil exports increased 10 percent in December after the government lowered duties.

Exports rose to 5.38 million barrels a day, from 4.89 million a day in November, including sales to refineries in former Soviet states and rail shipments, according to data released Jan. 2 by the Energy Ministry. (Bloomberg)

BasEl to Sell Soyuz Stake

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element holding company will sell a controlling stake of Bank Soyuz to a Gazprom subsidiary, Vedomosti reported Sunday.

Gazfinans agreed to bail out the bank, along with the Deposit Insurance Agency and BasEl's Finansresurs, the main stockholder of Soyuz.

Vedomosti cited a source close to the talks as saying a 75 percent stake would be sold for a "nominal sum." (MT)

Prokhorov's RusAl Stake?

Mikhail Prokhorov may boost his stake to 19 percent in United Company RusAl as the firm struggles to repay him $3 billion in cash, Vedomosti reported Sunday.

Prokhorov may get half of the amount he is owed in new RusAl shares and sell the remaining part of the debt to his former business partner Vladimir Potanin, the newspaper said, citing two unidentified people familiar with the talks. (Bloomberg)

Potanin to Sell Polyus Stake?

Billionaire Vladimir Potanin may soon sell his 35 percent of Polyus Gold to Suleiman Kerimov, Vedomosti reported Sunday, citing two people familiar with the talks.

Kerimov offered $1.6 billion for the Polyus stake, while Potanin is seeking funds to buy $1.5 billion in United Company RusAl debt, the newspaper said.

Potanin will use the debt to free his 18 percent of Norilsk Nickel held as collateral at VTB, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Toyota to Freeze New Plants

Toyota will freeze construction plans for new factories in Russia and Thailand amid slumping demand, the Sankei newspaper reported, citing an unidentified company official.

Toyota will freeze plans to build a second plant near St. Petersburg, originally scheduled to begin operations in early 2010, after production at the existing factory fell short of its forecast, the report said. (Bloomberg)

Reserve-Requirement Cut

The Central Bank may extend a temporary reserve-requirement cut beyond March, First Deputy Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said, Vedomosti reported.

The bank had planned to reinstate the requirements in two stages, from Feb. 1 and March 1, Ulyukayev said.

The Central Bank lowered the reserve requirements to 0.5 percent for all liabilities from Oct. 15 to boost liquidity. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Rosatom boosted fuel exports 30 percent last year on increased demand from European customers. (Bloomberg)

Mechel can borrow as much as $1.5 billion from state bailout bank VEB, Vedomosti said, citing an unidentified person close to Mechel. (Bloomberg)