Business in Brief

RusAl Seeks Bond Issue



United Company RusAl's Bratsk aluminum smelter asked Russia's markets watchdog to approve the sale of 60 billion rubles ($1.65 billion) in bonds as the world's largest producer of the metal seeks new financing sources.

RusAl's Krasnoyarsk plant will act as guarantor for six separate bond sales ranging in maturity from five to 10 years and totaling 60 billion rubles, the company said Friday in a regulatory filing. The bonds are not convertible.

"The company intends to use it as an instrument to attract additional financing," RusAl said. (Bloomberg)




Hambro Buys Aricom



LONDON -- Peter Hambro Mining, the second-biggest gold producer in Russia, said Friday that it agreed to buy Aricom for ?294.5 million ($434.2 million) in an all-share deal.

Peter Hambro will offer one new share for every 16 of Aricom, Peter Hambro said in a statement. That values Aricom at 24.9 pence per share, based on the closing price of Peter Hambro stock on Jan. 8, the day before the companies stated that they were in talks, the gold producer said.

Shares of Peter Hambro declined 26 pence, or 5.3 percent, in London trading, trimming its market value to ?380.6 million. Aricom climbed 2.9 percent after rising 30 percent in the week's first four days. (Bloomberg)




Shmatko Courts Germany



FRANKFURT -- Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said German companies could profit from bringing their expertise in the field of energy efficiency to his country, Der Spiegel reported, citing an interview.

"German industry is outstanding in this endeavor. We are also in talks with Japan and Italy, but I think that German firms could tap into a [Russian] market worth several billion euros per year if they become active," Shmatko said.

On Tuesday, Siemens and Rosatom said they would assess closer ties in the field of atomic energy. "I personally favor a real joint venture that would compete globally with common technology," he said. (Reuters)




Minsk Slams Ruble Rush



Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said the world financial crisis should not have had any effect on his country, but Russians' rush to exchange their rubles forced Minsk to dip into reserves to defend its currency, Interfax reported.

Russia agreed last year to extend a $2 billion loan to Belarus, and the International Monetary Fund opened a $2.46 billion credit line for the country in January. (MT)




Belarus Gets Help on Plant



MINSK -- Russia's ambassador to Belarus said Friday that Moscow would finance Belarus' first nuclear power plant and that construction would begin this year.

Alexander Surikov said the $5 billion project, planned to come on line in 2020, would be on "maximally beneficial credit terms" for Belarus and would be built by Atomstroiexport. (AP)




Gazprom's Plans for Nigeria



ABUJA, Nigeria -- Gazprom wants to invest at least $2.5 billion in the development and production of Nigeria's gas reserves, the world's seventh largest, a company source said Friday.

The gas producer is in talks with state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on joint ventures in the country.

"About $2.5 billion is understood to be the Gazprom investment program for Nigeria," said a company official working in Nigeria. "Ninety percent of it is for developing the domestic gas production, processing and transportation." (Reuters)




Polish Gas Deliveries Up



WARSAW -- Gazprom has increased its gas deliveries to Poland to cover a shortfall in supplies coming through Ukraine, the Polish gas monopoly said Friday.

Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo, or PGNiG, said on its web site that as of Friday morning it began receiving about 93 percent of its total contracted deliveries from Russia. In recent weeks, it had been getting only 76 percent of its contracted deliveries. (AP)




GM Union Leader Attacked



Yevgeny Ivanov, the head of General Motors' plant in St. Petersburg, told police on Sunday that he was attacked in the entryway of his apartment building.

"On Sunday at around 2:15 in the entryway of my building, I was punched in the face several times," Ivanov said, Interfax reported. "Before I fell, I managed to see that another guy was holding the door open. When I tried to get up and catch them, one of the attackers said, 'Hello from the union.'"

The plant, which opened in November, said Jan. 26 that it would move to three-day work weeks. The same day, Ivanov said he had received four threatening phone calls. In November, the head of the union at Ford's plant outside St. Petersburg warded off three attackers with a pellet gun. (MT)




Rosneft Emissions Deal



Rosneft said Friday that it agreed to sell emission-reduction units to Dresdner Bank and Gazprombank's trading venture as it seeks to curb gas flaring at western Siberian deposits.

The venture, Carbon Trade & Finance SICAR, made an advance payment last month under the agreement, Rosneft said. The state-run crude producer did not specify the amount paid or the number of units, each of which is equivalent to 1 ton of carbon dioxide.

Rosneft plans to invest 5 billion rubles ($138 million) to boost the use of gas that is pumped out with the oil at its Kharampurskoye and Khasyreiskoye fields to 95 percent by 2012, the company said. (Bloomberg)




Norilsk Managers Change



Norilsk Nickel hired Dmitry Kostoyev as deputy chief executive for investment, the miner said Friday.

Kostoyev had worked at Norilsk shareholder Vladimir Potanin's Interros Holding since December 2006. The company also said Oleg Lobanov stepped down as Norilsk Nickel chief financial officer Tuesday. (Bloomberg)




'Interest Rate Hikes Needed'



Russia needs "larger" increases to interest rates to prevent speculators from forcing the ruble lower, Rory Macfarquhar, Goldman Sachs' economist in Moscow, wrote in a research note Friday.

If the Central Bank fails to "tighten liquidity more convincingly" by raising the country's key borrowing costs, it "will be unwittingly financing a potential assault on its own currency peg by local banks," he wrote.

With the cost of money still cheap, "the new ruble regime is not yet credible," the note said. (Bloomberg)




RBC Seeks RTS Move



Shares of RBC Information Systems will be moved to the "unlisted" section of the RTS, the bourse said.

The company requested a transfer from the "A1" section to the "unlisted" part, which limits the types of investors that can purchase the shares, the RTS said Friday. The move takes effect Tuesday. (Bloomberg)




New OGK-3 Board



OGK-3, a power utility controlled by Norilsk Nickel, said Friday that shareholders voted in a new 11-person board, with billionaire Oleg Deripaska securing three representatives.

It also named Vladimir Kolmogorov as the new CEO, taking over from Igor Popov, OGK-3 said. Popov joined as CEO in September. (Bloomberg)




PPF Gets Half of Eldorado



PPF Group, a Czech private equity firm controlled by billionaire Petr Kellner, agreed to swap "a significant part" of a loan to Eldorado Group for a controlling stake in the electronics retailer.

PPF will gain 50 percent plus one share of Eldorado, PPF said late Thursday after signing a deal with Eldorado founder Igor Yakovlev. (Bloomberg)




For the Record



Russian Technologies has requested 262 billion rubles ($7.2 billion) in state funding and loan guarantees, Kommersant reported Friday. (Bloomberg)

VEB chairman Vladimir Dmitriyev said a decision on financial support for Hungarian airline Malev depended on "symmetrical" steps by the Hungarian government, following a meeting of the bank's supervisory board. (Bloomberg)