Business in Brief

Vavilov Bought Penthouse

Federation Council Senator Andrei Vavilov, who recently settled a property dispute over a two-unit New York penthouse, agreed to purchase the smaller of the two apartments, The New York Observer reported, citing city records.

Vavilov, a former deputy finance minister, reached a settlement with developer El-Ad Properties after complaining that the property in the Plaza Hotel had been altered without his consent, his lawyer said last week. The terms of the settlement over the contract dispute were not disclosed. (MT)

Relief for Small Business ?

Moscow authorities will not fine small and medium-sized businesses for late rental payments until the crisis ends, Mayor Yury Luzhkov said Monday.

"We will carry over the debts and apply them to whichever year the situation in the real sector of the economy stabilizes," he said, RIA-Novosti reported.

He added that not a single small business will be closed by the authorities while the crisis lasts. (MT)

Putin Wants Pensions Raised

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the Finance Ministry to find funds in the budget to raise pensions three times this year, according to a transcript of comments on the government web site.

He added that if inflation exceeds its forecast amount then pensions should be raised yet another time, starting Aug. 1, to offset its effects. (MT)

Mechel Gets $1Bln in Credit

Mechel has received a $1 billion credit line from Gazprombank to help it repay short-term debt, the miner said Monday.

The credit facilities provided by Gazprombank, the banking arm of Gazprom, have a three-year term.

"The new long-term credit facilities allow Mechel … [to] navigate the near-term economic challenges while continuing to execute on our long-term strategy of developing production assets," its chief financial officer, Stanislav Ploschenko, said. (Reuters)

Acron Borrows $128M

Acron borrowed $128 million from Sberbank, using its stake in fellow potash producer Silvinit as collateral, Acron said in a statement Monday.

The three-year loan will be used to fund operations and refinance short-term debt, it said. (Bloomberg)

Strabag Cuts Forecast

Strabag, Central Europe's biggest construction company, cut its output forecast to less than 10 percent this year as building slows globally and sales "stagnate" in Russia.

Strabag was counting on Russia, which has become the second-biggest market after Germany, to double output growth annually until 2012. Strabag has purchased companies in Germany and Eastern Europe, where it expects faster growth rates than in Western Europe, hit by the euro region's recession. (Bloomberg)

Hyundai May Build Pipeline

Transneft said South Korea's Hyundai may help build the second phase of a link from eastern Siberia to Russia's Pacific Ocean coast.

Transneft vice presidents Vladimir Kushnarev and Yury Lisin held talks on Feb. 6 with Noh Young-Don, Hyundai's head, to discuss cooperation on the Eastern Siberian Pipeline project, Transneft said Monday. (Bloomberg)

PPF Raises Polymetal Stake

PPF Group is raising its stake in Polymetal to 30 percent minus one share, Interfax reported Monday, citing an unidentified person familiar with the Czech group's plans.

The company currently has 24.9 percent of Polymetal, it said. (Bloomberg)

VTB Loans $267M to SUEK

VTB Group lent 9.66 billion rubles ($267 million) for 18 months to Siberian Coal Energy, the country's largest coal producer. VTB granted a 2.5 billion ruble loan to Siberian Coal Energy's Kuzbass unit in December, VTB said Monday. (Bloomberg)

Norilsk Completes Buyback

Norilsk Nickel has completed a 48.4 billion ruble ($1.35 billion) share buyback that was stalled last October because of a shareholder conflict.

The firm acquired 7.9 million shares, or about 4 percent of its stock, paying 6,167 rubles apiece, Norilsk said. (Bloomberg)

Prominvest to Open 'Soon'

Ukraine's Central Bank will "soon" allow lender Prominvestbank to restart business.

The bank's investors, Vneshekonombank and TOV Signus, have increased the lender's share capital and improved its liquidity, the Central Bank said Monday. (Bloomberg)