Business in Brief

Olimpstroi's Tenders



Olimpstroi will announce this year tenders for more than 40 projects to be built in preparation for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, said Alexei Bereznitsky, head of the state corporation's auctions department, Interfax reported.

Seventeen tenders for some of the largest facilities have already been announced, he said, and bids will be opened Feb. 17. "After that, we'll need another six weeks to check the winners and their technical and financial capacity, after which they'll be able to start building," he said.

The corporation is also considering centralizing the supply of building materials if prices continue to fluctuate wildly, Bereznitsky said, the news agency reported. (MT)




IMF Sees GDP Down 0.7%



The International Monetary Fund is forecasting that Russia' economy will shrink by 0.7 percent in 2009 but grow 1.3 percent in 2010, it said in a supplement to its World Economic Outlook, Interfax reported.

The IMF has revised its forecast three times since October, when it predicted 5.5 percent growth in 2009. (MT)




Ukraine's Customs Chief



The Ukrainian Cabinet on Wednesday relieved Federal Customs Service head Valery Khoroshkovsky of his duties to become first deputy head of the SBU, the country's main successor agency to the KGB, Interfax reported.

Kiev customs chief Anatoly Makarenko was named the new head of the federal agency, the report said. (MT)




Pro-Tariff Demonstrators



More than 1,800 people demonstrated in support of Russia's domestic automakers on Wednesday in Tolyatti, home to the country's largest carmaker, AvtoVAZ, Interfax reported.

"For the most part, the participants were AvtoVAZ workers and those employed by car parts makers," said Nikolai Karagin, head of AvtoVAZ union's committee, the news agency reported. In December, a similar event was held with some 800 people to counteract protests in the Far East over tariff hikes on imported cars. (MT)




SU-155 to Build More in '09



Residential builder SU-155 said Wednesday that it planned to complete 1.54 million square meters of housing in 2009, or 10.5 percent more than last year," RIA-Novosti reported.

"We're planning to invest 44.4 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) in construction in 2009. The funding will come from budget money from various levels, bank loans and selling residential and commercial real estate," the company said in statement. (MT)




Aeroflot Buys Airbus Plans



Aeroflot has agreed to buy six Airbus planes to renew its fleet.

Aeroflot's board approved the purchase Dec. 29, spokeswoman Irina Dannenberg said Tuesday, declining to say the cost of the transaction. Aeroflot will pay $286 million for six A321-200 aircraft, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)




Gazprom Seat for Warnig?



Matthias Warnig, a former East German security services agent acquainted with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, may become a Gazprom board member, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

Warnig, currently managing director of Gazprom's Nord Stream pipeline project, will be nominated for the position, which is to be voted on at a July 26 meeting, the newspaper reported, citing a government source and managers in Nord Stream and Gazprombank. (Bloomberg)




VSMPO Deal With EADS



VSMPO-Avisma chief executive Vladislav Tetyukhin said the world's biggest titanium producer planned to sign a deal to supply European Aeronautic Defense & Space's Airbus unit until 2020, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

The new contract will be the longest signed by VSMPO with Airbus, the newspaper said. The aircraft producer accounted for as much as 13 percent of VSMPO's sales last year. VSMPO, controlled by Russian Technologies, may triple the supply of the metal to Airbus from 2009 to 2012, Kommersant said. (Bloomberg)




TMK's $1.1Bln Loan



TMK, Russia's biggest pipe maker, may borrow $1.1 billion from Gazprombank to refinance debt, Vedomosti reported Wednesday, citing unidentified bankers.

Gazprombank approved the loans, which will be guaranteed by about 25 percent of TMK shares held by chairman Dmitry Pumpyansky and 25 percent of TMK's Volzhsky pipe plant, the newspaper said. TMK has $3 billion in debt, about half of which is short-term debt, it said. (Bloomberg)




M.Video's Store Openings



M.Video plans to reduce store openings this year as the slowing economy causes consumers to cut spending.

M.Video will open 23 outlets in 2009, CEO Alexander Tynkovan said Wednesday, less than the 37 outlets in 2008. The company had planned to open about 30 stores this year, Tynkovan said earlier. (Bloomberg)




South Stream's Capacity



Gazprom may increase the capacity of the South Stream pipeline by 50 percent, deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said Wednesday.

The South Stream pipeline, which Gazprom plans to build with Italy's Eni, may end up carrying 47 billion cubic meters of gas a year, 16 billion cubic meters more than originally planned, he said. (Bloomberg)




VEB Funds for Sochi



Vneshekonombank may use money from the National Welfare Fund to finance construction for the 2014 Olympics, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

The lender will make loans from the sovereign wealth fund to private investors unable to raise money because of the financial crisis, the newspaper said, citing a government source. Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element holding company may be the first recipient of the funds, Vedomosti reported. (Bloomberg)




OPEC Wants Regulation



OPEC wants U.S. regulators to curtail oil trading by hedge funds and speculators who helped make last year the most volatile in crude oil markets.

Abdalla el-Badri, secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is seeking rules to "limit the level of speculation" by investors who buy oil without planning to use it. (Bloomberg)




ArcelorMittal's Mill Plans



ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, declined to comment on a report that it had shelved plans to build a steel mini-mill in the Tver region because of declining demand for the metal in the country.

Metal Bulletin said Wednesday that ArcelorMittal had been forced to rethink its plans to build the plant, citing people it didn't identify, because of "slackening demand" in Russia. (Bloomberg)




Speculation on Svyazinvest



Uralsvyazinform and other regional phone companies' stocks climbed on speculation that the state would buy the 25 percent that it does not already own in national phone holding Svyazinvest, leading to an industry overhaul.

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov last week asked the Communications and Press Ministry to come up with ways to acquire the Svyazinvest stake without using money from the budget. (Bloomberg)




For the Record



Transaero said Wednesday that it carried 4.9 million passengers in 2008, or 50 percent more than the year before, Interfax reported. (MT)

Alrosa, the world's second-largest diamond producer, has halted sales of gems to customers except for the state stockpile since late December after demand evaporated, a spokesman said. (Bloomberg)

Polyus Gold, Russia's largest producer of the metal, said Wednesday that output rose to 1.22 million ounces of refined gold in 2008, from 1.21 million ounces a year earlier. (Bloomberg)