Business in Brief

Gazprom's Satellite Builders

French aerospace company Thales Alenia won a tender to build two satellites for Gazprom Space Systems, Interfax reported Wednesday.

The Gazprom unit, formerly known as Gazkom, announced the tender for the two Yamal-400 communications satellites in June, the report said. The satellites are to be launched in 2011 to replace less-powerful units currently in orbit. (MT)

More People on RZD Route

Russian Railways said Wednesday that it carried 6.4 million passengers between Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2008, a 5.5 percent increase from the previous year.

The company said faster travel times -- typically 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours -- had made the service more popular, and that a high-speed electric train expected to begin operations this year would cut the time to less than four hours. (MT)

Foreign Car Sales Fall 10%

Sales of foreign car brands in Russia fell 10 percent in December compared with the same period in 2007, the Association of European Businesses in Russia said Wednesday.

The association's data showed that 17,935 fewer vehicles were sold last month than in December of the previous year. (Reuters)

Trade Surplus Grows

Russia's trade surplus grew to $193.6 billion in the first 11 months as the world's biggest oil and gas exporter benefited from energy sales, the Federal Customs Service said.

The surplus advanced by $57.4 billion compared with the same period last year, the service said Wednesday. Exports totaled $439.4 billion against imports of $245.8 billion. (Bloomberg)

Sollers Seeks SUV Rights

Russian carmaker Sollers is seeking to buy the rights to produce SsangYong sport utility vehicles after the Korean automotive firm filed for bankruptcy protection, Sollers said on Wednesday.

"This move would allow Sollers to continue manufacturing SsangYong models in Russia completely independently of the Korean company," Sollers said in a statement.

Sollers already holds licenses to produce SsangYong's Rexton II and Kyron sport utility vehicles in Russia. (Reuters)

Russia's New Arctic Strategy

Russia will release a new strategy for developing resources in the Arctic at the end of this month after the U.S. adopted policy directives for the Arctic region Tuesday, Kommersant reported.

The Security Council drafted the document on Dec. 17, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified official at the Foreign Ministry. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Banks saw deposit inflows of around 400 billion rubles ($13 billion) in December after outflows of 360 billion rubles in October and a flat November balance, the Central Bank said, news agencies reported Wednesday. (Reuters)

Ukraine's antitrust regulator started an investigation into RosUkrEnergo's shareholdings in Ukrainian natural-gas distributing companies, Kommersant-Ukraine reported without citing anyone. (Bloomberg)