Business in Brief

Castro Positive on Visit



Cuban President Raul Castro hailed the "very positive" results of his visit to Moscow after winning aid pledges of $354 million.

The head of the Finance Ministry's State Debt Department, Konstantin Vyshkovsky, told Reuters that Russia had agreed to provide Havana with $270 million in soft loans, mostly to buy and lease Russian agricultural and construction machinery.

Another $37 million worth of Russian grain will be given to Havana as aid, Vyshkovsky said. On top of that, he confirmed a report that state-bank VEB would provide $47 million to sell a cargo plane to Cuba. (Reuters)




Chamber Finds Irregularities



The Audit Chamber found irregularities in the construction of East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline managed by state-run Transneft.

Transneft signed 83 contracts worth 78.5 billion rubles ($2.2 billion) without holding tenders, the Audit Chamber said in a statement Monday. The results of the audit will be sent to the company, the watchdog said.

Transneft used a "broad interpretation" of the rules on awarding contracts without tenders, the auditor said. Transneft also committed violations by not taking measures against subcontractors who did not meet delivery deadlines, according to the statement. (Bloomberg)




FAS Appeals Court Decision



The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said it is appealing a court decision to cancel an anti-monopoly penalty imposed on Gazprom Neft.

The St. Petersburg Arbitration Court broke with legal precedent when it canceled a fine without waiting for a Moscow court to decide on whether the penalty was lawful in the first place, the service said Monday. (Bloomberg)




S7 to Restructure Debt



S7 Group is in talks with bondholders to restructure 2.3 billion rubles ($64 million) of debt.

The company appointed Raiffeisenbank, the Russian unit of Austria's Raiffeisen International Bank Holding, to help restructure the notes, S7 said. (Bloomberg)




Acron's Output Rises 3%



Acron, Russia's third-largest nitrogen fertilizer producer, said output rose 3 percent last year, while production of complex fertilizers fell 25 percent.

Nitrogen fertilizer output rose to 1.71 million metric tons, compared with 1.67 million tons a year earlier, the company said in a statement today. Output of complex fertilizers fell to 2 million tons compared with 2.67 million tons in 2007. (Bloomberg)




Interros' VTB Candidates



Vladimir Potanin's Interros Holding, the largest investor in Norilsk Nickel, nominated two deputy chairmen of state-run bank VTB Group to the metals company's board.

Vasily Titov and Valery Lukyanenko were nominated, an Interros spokesman said Monday. (Bloomberg)




AvtoVAZ Restarts Line



AvtoVAZ restarted its conveyor after a stoppage that lasted more than a month. The company plans to produce 32,000 vehicles in February, it said Monday. (Bloomberg)




Putin Is the Name of a Snack



Siberian retailers are selling vegetable snacks that bear the name of Russia's prime minister, Vladimir Putin, Novaya Gazeta reported.

Supermarkets in the city of Prokopyevsk are offering Putin cabbage-and-mushroom snacks for about 60 rubles ($1.66). (Bloomberg)




Vitol Wins Oil Auction



Vitol, a Swiss oil trader, won an auction to buy 432,000 barrels of oil to be delivered from the Russian port of Novorossiisk, Socar said.

Vitol will load the Russian Export Blend crude oil cargo on Feb. 26 or Feb. 27, the company said on its web site Monday. (Bloomberg)




Sunflower Seed Exports



Willowton Oils and Cake Mills, a South African refiner of edible oils, said it is importing 70,000 tons of sunflower seeds from Russia because it is cheaper than buying from local farmers.

A 25,000-ton shipment arrived last week, and a further 23,000 tons is loading at the port of Novorossiisk, the company said Monday. (Bloomberg)




For the Record



Coking coal producer Raspadskaya and oil company Russneft may join the merger of metals companies proposed by billionaires Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska, Kommersant said, citing an unidentified person familiar with the plan. (Bloomberg)

Sberbank may approve a loan of 5 billion rubles ($138 million) to insurer Rosgosstrakh, Kommersant reported. (Bloomberg)

Gennady Timchenko, a co-founder of oil trader Gunvor International, may join the board of directors of Russia's largest nonstate gas producer Novatek, Kommersant reported. (Bloomberg)

Razgulai appointed Dmitry Tyukhtenko as CEO, replacing Alexander Soldatov, who takes over the group's sugar division. (Bloomberg)

Mikhail Prokhorov may gain control of as much as 60 percent of United Company RusAl, Kommersant reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg)