Business in Brief

Ukrainian Minister Quits

Ukrainian Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk quit on Thursday in a budget row with the prime minister, and the International Monetary Fund told authorities that it wanted better "crisis management" from the ex-Soviet state.

Pynzenyk described himself as a "hostage to politics," citing differences over a deficit contained in the budget backed by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The IMF had made a deficit-free budget a condition of a $16.4 billion loan. (Reuters)

Moscow Tourism Up in '08

The number of foreigners visiting Moscow increased 2 percent last year to 4.1 million, but the number of visitors from abroad will decline in 2009, City Hall's tourism committee said Thursday, Interfax reported.

The most tourists came from Germany, which had about 300,000 visitors to Moscow in 2008, said committee head Grigory Antyufeyev. Britain had 144,000, while France and China each sent 132,000 visitors, he said. (MT)

UAC Plans IPO for 2011-12

The United Aircraft Corporation, or UAC, is planning to hold an IPO in 2011 or 2012, depending on the situation on equity markets, the president of the state corporation, Alexei Fyodorov, said Thursday on a trip to India, Interfax reported.

"UAC is now in the formation stage, the resuscitation of UAC; it needs state support. In 2011, it will be starting a new stage, when it will need to cut back on state financing," Fyodorov said. (MT)

Eurocement's Credit Line

Sberbank said in an e-mailed statement Thursday that it had opened a 6 billion ruble ($173 million) credit line for Eurocement Group.

The first tranche of the 18-month loan will be delivered by the end of the month, Sberbank said, without disclosing other terms of the loan. Eurocement will use the funds to boost its operating capital, the statement said. (MT)

Defense Budget Cut 15%

Russia will slash its defense budget by 15 percent this year as the country endures its worst economic crisis in a decade, a deputy head of the State Duma's Defense Committee said Thursday, Interfax reported.

Deputy Defense Minister Lyubov Kudelina said total appropriations for the ministry this year are about 1.38 trillion rubles ($39.6 billion). (Bloomberg)

MMK Restarts Furnace

Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works restarted a blast furnace to meet improved demand for the metal, the company said Thursday.

Blast furnace No. 7, which can produce 3,200 tons of pig iron a day, resumed operation on Feb. 9. Another furnace will restart next month, it said. (Bloomberg)

Novolipetsk Furnace Online

Novolipetsk Steel restarted a blast furnace at its main production site that had been shut down in October for maintenance, the company said Thursday in a statement.

The furnace has an annual capacity of 1.3 million tons of pig iron. (Bloomberg)

Gas Shipments to Turkey

Gazprom may increase gas shipments to Turkey by 7 percent to 25.5 billion cubic meters this year, RIA-Novosti reported Thursday, citing an unidentified government official.

The energy producer sold Turkey 23.8 billion cubic meters of gas last year, of which 10 billion cubic meters were shipped through the Blue Stream pipeline under the Black Sea. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom to Borrow $2.6Bln

Gazprom plans to borrow 90 billion rubles ($2.59 billion) on the domestic market and abroad this year, Andrei Kruglov, deputy chairman of Gazprom's management committee, said Thursday.

Gazprom will borrow the same sum in 2010, he said, adding that the firm will sell bonds "not sooner than this fall." (Bloomberg)

Grid Company Makes Index

The Federal Grid Company will be added to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Federal Grid shares will join the benchmark measure for emerging-market equities as of the close of trade on Feb. 27, MSCI Barra said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Tele2's Capex Plans

Swedish telecom operator Tele2 plans capital spending of between 1.1 billion Swedish crowns ($131.8 million) and 1.3 billion in Russia in 2009 and does not plan to cut back investments in the financial crisis, the group said on Thursday.

The company, Russia's No. 4 largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, and which trades on its low prices, plans to expand its services into 10 to 12 Russian regions in addition to the 17 it already covers. (Reuters)

Shmatko Goes to China

Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko will lead a delegation to China next week for more talks on $25 billion of loans for the oil companies Rosneft and Transneft, RIA-Novosti reported Thursday.

A state-run Russian bank may provide guarantees on paying back loans extended by China, the service said, citing an unidentified person with knowledge of the matter. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom to Invest in Nigeria

Gazprom plans to invest $2.5 billion in Nigeria's gas industry, the Guardian reported, citing an unidentified company official.

Gazprom is holding talks on forming a joint venture with state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Ilim Plans Development

Ilim Group, Russia's biggest pulp and paper producer, plans to build an 28 billion ruble ($805 million) commercial and residential development near St. Petersburg, Vedomosti said, citing government officials.

Ilim chairman Zakhar Smushkin will invest 4 billion rubles of his own money to complete the first stage of the project and then seek investors for the rest, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Deripaska Seeks Comfort

Oleg Deripaska, CEO of United Company RusAl, is seeking a "comfort letter" from the state before banks agree to restructure $7.5 billion of debt, Kommersant said, citing unidentified people close to the talks.

The government is willing to give RusAl political support while avoiding financial responsibility, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Kinross' Planned Output

Kinross Gold, Canada's third-largest producer of the metal, said bullion output at its Russian Kupol mine will be between 21 tons and 23 tons this year, Lou Naumovsky, the company's director of Russian operations, said Thursday.

The cost of sales will be between $265 and $290 per ounce at Kupol in 2009. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

The government expects revenue from arms exports to rise to $8.5 billion this year, RIA-Novosti news service reported, citing the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation. (Bloomberg)

The government will allocate 262 billion rubles ($7.4 million) to Russian Technologies, the state holding company said Thursday, Kommersant reported. (Bloomberg)

VTB Group created a unit to handle its bad debt. In the future, VTB Debt Center will also manage assets transferred to VTB in payment of debts, the group said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Russians increased deposits with local banks by 6.9 percent in December after declines in the previous three months, the Central Bank said, RIA-Novosti reported. (Bloomberg)