Business in Brief

$460M in Auto Orders

Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said Thursday that the State Transportation Leasing Company would make purchases worth 15 billion rubles ($460 million) this year from 68 domestic manufacturers, including KamAZ.

In late December, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the ministry would get some 40 billion rubles to create the leasing company, which would purchase Russian-made autos and other transportation equipment.

"It will be major producers, such as KamAZ … virtually all of Russia's regions will take part in this work, which will allow us to create tens of thousands of jobs," Levitin said at a meeting with Putin, Interfax reported. (MT)

Commercial Vehicle Checks

A government commission on road safety decided on Thursday to transfer responsibility for technical inspections of vehicles from the traffic police to commercial organizations.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov ordered the government to enforce the new rules starting in 2010, he said after a meeting with government's road safety inspector, Viktor Kiryanov, Interfax reported.

Earlier, Kiryanov said, inspectors used to "check the drive train, the brakes, and see how it is working." But today "the human touch has practically disappeared. A car drives up, they hook it up to the computer, which checks all the machinery, and the information displays on the computer." (MT)

Checks on Irish Pork Upped

The Federal Consumer Protection Service said it was stepping up its inspection of Irish pork after Irish officials found dioxins in local meat, RIA-Novosti reported Thursday.

A Leningrad region laboratory recently tested three samples of Irish pork but did not find evidence of elevated dioxin levels. Last month, a recall pulled local pork off Irish shelves after elevated levels of dioxins were found in pigs on 10 farms. (MT)

Yevroset's Rent Feud

Mobile phone retailer Yevroset said Thursday that it would close its outlet at 17 Tverskaya Ulitsa -- one of its most visible locations -- because of a disagreement with the building's landlord over the rental price, Interfax reported.

The store had shown "very good financial results," vice president for development Artyom Perevozchikov said, but Yevroset decided to leave because the company did not want to pay a higher rental rate. (MT)

New Globex President

Globex, one of the first banks bailed out in the liquidity crisis last year, said Thursday that it has appointed Vitaly Vavilin, the former chairman of Tolyatti lender National Trade Bank, as its president, Interfax reported.

Kommersant reported Thursday that VEB spent 80 billion rubles ($2.4 billion) bringing Globex, which Interfax ranked Russia's 35th-largest lender by assets as of the third quarter of 2008, back into financial health. The state development bank acquired 99 percent of Globex's shares in October for a symbolic 5,000 rubles. (MT)

PIK's Cash-Flow Collateral

PIK Group will offer its cash flows from apartment sales and services as a guarantee for 26 billion rubles ($800 million) of loans, Kommersant said, citing an unidentified banker and consultant.

PIK plans to use the funds to refinance its existing debt, which reached $1.98 billion at the end of last year, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Moscow Hotels Still for Rich

Moscow hotel rates remain the world's most expensive, even after falling about 20 percent in November and December, Kommersant reported, citing industry consultants.

The average room price in the last two months of the year was $315 a night, reducing the average rate for 2008 to $417, more than any other metropolitan area, the newspaper said, citing Hogg Robinson Group. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Imperial Energy said Peter Levine resigned as chairman. (Bloomberg)

Rosatom plans to create a Mongolian uranium mining venture to mine the metal in both countries, CEO Sergei Kiriyenko said, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)

AAA Auto Group, a Prague-based chain of used car dealerships, said it has delayed its entrance into the Russian market until "at least" 2010, spokesman Vladan Crha said. (Bloomberg)

Evraz Group cut 400 jobs, or 9 percent of its North American work force, at five Canadian plate and pipe plants. (Bloomberg)