Business in Brief

RTS Sinks Below 500

The dollar-denominated RTS Index fell 3.4 percent on Friday to 498.2, the first time it has fallen below 500 since November 2003.

The ruble-denominated MICEX Index dropped 0.7 percent to 553.62, its lowest level since Nov. 21. (MT)

German Nuclear Venture

FRANKFURT -- German engineering conglomerate Siemens plans to set up a nuclear-power joint venture with Atomenergoprom, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said Saturday.

State-owned Atomenergoprom manages Russia's civilian nuclear industry assets and is active in uranium production, nuclear power plant construction and energy generation. Siemens and Atomenergoprom spokesmen declined to comment. (Reuters)

Ford to Raise Russia Prices

Ford Motor said Friday that it would raise the prices on its automobiles in Russia, Prime-Tass reported.

The company will raise prices by 4.5 percent on average from Feb. 1. Ford's Russian-produced Focus and Mondeo models will cost 2 percent more. (MT)

Georgian Gas Disruption

Russian gas shipments to Armenia resumed after an accident forced a halt to supplies via Georgia earlier Sunday, Interfax reported.

The pipeline, which was damaged amid bad weather, is now "operating as normal," a spokeswoman for Georgian Oil and Gas said. (Bloomberg)

Polymetal Acquisition

Polymetal said Friday that it agreed to buy explorer Artel of Prospectors Ayax for $11.7 million and 7.5 million shares.

Ayax owns the permit to develop the Goltsovoye silver deposit, Polymetal said in a statement. (Bloomberg)

Onexim, Morgan Settle

Onexim Group, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's holding company, said Friday that it settled a dispute with Morgan Stanley regarding a mandatory offer for shares of TGK-4.

Onexim spokesman Igor Petrov said the company was happy with the agreement, declining further comment. The Moscow Arbitration Court on Friday dismissed the case brought against Morgan Stanley after Onexim dropped the claim, RIA-Novosti reported.

Onexim had sought to invalidate share-sale agreements by TGK-4 minority shareholders, including Morgan Stanley, made with a depositary bank after Prokhorov's group said in October that it was no longer able to complete the mandatory offer. (Bloomberg)

RusHydro Cut Investment

RusHydro said Friday that it invested 55.5 billion rubles ($1.69 billion), or 29 percent less than planned last year, because the global credit crunch limited access to financing.

The state-controlled company added 325 megawatts of capacity in 2008, or 86 megawatts fewer than planned. This year, it plans to add 145 megawatts and spend 79.6 billion rubles on new building and upgrades. Funds will come from a share sale, the company's own profits, state subsidies and the sale of minority holdings in other utilities. (Bloomberg)

Integra Gets Loan Extension

Oil-field services company Integra Group has received a one-month extension to repay a $135 million loan.

The final payment date on the debt, arranged by ING and ABN Amro Holding, was moved to Feb. 25 to "allow sufficient time" to reach agreement on a proposed $300 million refinancing loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Integra said late Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Gazprombank Dollar Notes

Gazprombank said Friday that it planned to spend up to $300 million to buy back outstanding dollar notes.

Gazprombank said it was offering a maximum 88 percent of face value plus unpaid interest to buy back some of the $700 million notes maturing in 2010 and a maximum 65 percent for its $1 billion notes due in 2015. (Bloomberg)

Dixy Revenue Rises 32%

Dixy Group said Friday that 2008 revenue increased 32 percent.

Sales advanced to 48.3 billion rubles ($1.47 billion) from 36.7 billion rubles the previous year, it said. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Friday that state support for the agricultural sector would more than double to 200 billion rubles in 2009, Prime-Tass reported. (MT)

Aeroflot said Friday that it would apply to participate in a tender for the privatization of Czech Airlines by Feb. 20, Prime-Tass reported. (MT)

Gazprom Neft's bid to buy 51 percent of NIS was approved Friday by Serbia's anti-monopoly commission, Interfax reported. (MT)

URSA Bank, which is merging with MDM-Bank, plans to buy back its 300 million euros ($384 million) of 8.3 percent notes due in 2011. (Bloomberg)

Russia and South Africa held talks on joint production of uranium hexafluoride, a material used to make fuel for nuclear power plants, a unit of Rosatom said Friday. (Bloomberg)

Kuwaiti state news says an investment firm in the Persian Gulf country is forming a pair of joint ventures with Gazprom. (AP)

TGK-2 plans to cut as many as 320 jobs at its head office in Yaroslavl to reduce costs, Vedomosti reported Friday, citing company documents for a board meeting. (Bloomberg)

ChTPZ Group said Friday that shipments last year fell 20 percent.