Business in Brief

Regulation of Financial Ads?

The government will fight the creation of pyramid schemes through tougher regulation of advertising for financial services, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

"In connection with previous instances of pyramid schemes and other forms of abuse on financial markets, the government is considering empowering authorities to regulate advertising on the financial market," he said, RIA-Novosti reported.

The government is also planning to institute a regulatory system that would oversee high-risk financial services, including margin trading and futures contracts. (MT)

MTS Takes $388M Loan

Mobile TeleSystems said Tuesday that it had raised a 300 million euro ($388 million), 30-month loan from Gazprombank.

The company, controlled by Sistema, will use the funds for general purposes, including refinancing and its capital expenditures, MTS said in a statement on its web site. (MT)

Medvedev's Trip to Tashkent

President Dmitry Medvedev will travel to Tashkent for talks Thursday and Friday with his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, according to a statement on the Kremlin web site.

No further details of the visit were given, and the Kremlin press service said Tuesday that it did not have any additional information. (MT)

Uralkali Output Falls 71.5%

Uralkali's output of potassium chloride, or potash, fell 71.5 percent in December to 129,900 tons from 456,600 tons in December 2007.

Output in the whole of 2008 fell by 6.4 percent to 4.8 million tons from 2007. "The cut in production was a result of the current adverse situation in the world market for potash fertilizers, fuelled by the global financial downturn," the company said. (Reuters)

GM-AvtoVAZ to Fire 400

GM-AvtoVAZ, a joint venture between General Motors and AvtoVAZ, said Tuesday that it would lay off 400 of its 1,400 workers and that it was planning production cuts, Interfax reported.

Spokeswoman Lyudmila Murycheva told the agency that it was "revising its production plans downward," without elaborating. (MT)

Evraz Renegotiating Delong

Evraz still plans to take over Chinese steel company Delong, in which it currently owns 10 percent, but is negotiating a lower price, Evraz chairman Alexander Abramov told Vedomosti in an interview published Tuesday.

In February, the Russian steelmaker offered to buy 51 percent of Delong for $762 million, valuing the company at $1.5 billion at the time. The company is still awaiting anti-monopoly clearance from Chinese authorities. (MT)

Venezuela Loan to Belarus

Belarus has taken a $500 million, seven-year loan from Venezuela, a source in the Belarussian government said Tuesday, Interfax reported.

The source said Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko stated last week that the funds had been transferred late last year and that they were included in the country's foreign exchange reserves. (MT)

Moscow to Harness Sewer

Moscow is ready to launch "in the coming days" a 5-megawatt power generator that uses gas from solid sewage flows, Mayor Yury Luzhkov told a conference Tuesday, Interfax reported.

He also said the sewage could be processed for later usage as fertilizer, the report said. (MT)

PwC Tax Claims Overruled

The presidium of the Supreme Arbitration Court on Tuesday overruled a decision by the Moscow Arbitration Court on the legality of 260 million rubles ($7.8 million) of back tax claims against PricewaterhouseCoopers' Russian subsidiary, Interfax reported.

A Moscow tax inspectorate said in 2002 that it had uncovered unpaid profit and value-added taxes and said it would fine the company 18.6 million rubles, the report said. (MT)

Regions' Spending Watched

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday asked Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin to monitor how regions spend federal funds allocated to help them manage the economic crisis, Interfax reported.

"To support the regions, and in particular to create jobs, we are allocating more than 43 billion rubles," Putin said, adding that he had "no doubt" that the funds were being used properly. (MT)

Montenegro Backs Loan

BELGRADE -- Montenegro has offered to guarantee borrowing by Kombinat Aluminijuma Podgorica, the country's only aluminum producer, on condition that majority owner Basic Element, Oleg Deripaska's holding company, maintain long-term production, RTCG TV reported Tuesday.

The government said in a statement on RTCG that it was ready to provide the company, also known as KAP, with guarantees on tens of millions of euros in borrowing and waive fees for electricity, fuel, taxes and other expenses for an undetermined period. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Norilsk Nickel forecast that its 2009 revenue would fall by more than half and that it would have to cut costs as the financial crisis hits demand. (Reuters)

GAZ, the parent company of carmaker GAZ Group, said Tuesday that it paid 60 percent of its 2007 dividends, Interfax reported. (MT)

Russia will distribute radio frequencies for the WiMax mobile data standard on a "contest" basis, Communications and Mass Media Minister Igor Shchyogolev said Tuesday.(Bloomberg)

M.Video, Russia's second-largest consumer electronics chain, said December sales jumped 11 percent over the same period last year to 12.1 billion rubles ($363 million). (Bloomberg)

Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works, billionaire Victor Rashnikov's steelmaker, cut production by 51 percent in the fourth quarter, Interfax reported Tuesday, citing a source familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg)

Dmitry Malishev, an adviser to Gazprom Neft, will be appointed head of Naftna Industrija Srbije once Gazprom Neft takes control of the Serbian oil refiner, Politika reported Tuesday. (Bloomberg)