Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Customs Nets $18Bln

MOSCOW (MT) ? The State Customs Committee will transfer a record high revenue of 530 billion rubles ($17.9 billion) to the federal budget this year, Prime-Tass reported committee chairman Mikhail Vanin as saying Wednesday.

According to the 2001 budget, the committee was expected to collect 354 billion rubles in revenues this year, although the target was later increased to 491 billion.

Vanin said at a news conference that the committee had paid a total of $85 billion in revenues to the federal budget over the past 10 years.

'Debt Under Control'

MOSCOW (MT) ? Russia has its debt under control and there will be no "unexpected scenarios" regarding payments to the Paris Club of creditor nations and the International Monetary Fund, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Wednesday.

He said the 2002 budget would not be revised "even if the oil price falls to $18.50 a barrel, the lowest level set in the budget." Kudrin said a draft debt-management strategy will be ready by October and will be discussed by the Cabinet on Nov. 20.

Russia would be able to reach a loan deal with the IMF if needed, but "this is not in government plans for next year," Kudrin said. The Paris Club, which Russia owes some $40 billion, would act with "understanding" if oil prices fell, he said.

Help from the Paris Club could come in the form of rescheduling repayments or even forgiving some of the debt, Kudrin said.

Bank Reform Defended

MOSCOW (MT) ? Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin on Wednesday defended the government and Central Bank strategy to reform the banking sector, responding to criticism that the plan introduces merely cosmetic changes.

"In the next two years, half of Russian banks will have to raise their capital, merge with other banks or they will be liquidated and ? transformed into non-banking financial organizations," Kudrin said at a news conference.

Analysts say the changes to the banking sector will make little real difference because they will not open the industry to real competition.

WTO Reports

MOSCOW (MT) ? The government will hear ministries? reports on Russia?s accession to the World Trade Organization in February 2002, Prime-Tass reported the Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Maxim Medvedkov as saying Wednesday.

Medvedkov told reporters that Russia is not pressed by any accession deadlines, so it could negotiate most favorable terms for domestic businesses.

Medvedkov also said that on Oct. 30, the Russian delegation will begin negotiations on industry subsidies as part of WTO accession talks.

Oil Tender Voided

MOSCOW (MT) ? The Natural Resources Ministry issued a ruling on Tuesday voiding the results of a tender to develop massive Gamburtsev Val oil deposits in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district, Prime-Tass reported.

The tender to develop Gamburtsev?s three oil fields ? Khysareiskoye, Cherpayusskoye and Hyadeiyuskoye ? which included LUKoil, Yukos, Surgutneftegaz and Sibneft, was held by local authorities last March.

The Yamal-Nenets government named Severnaya Neft the winner with a bid of $900 million and a tie-breaking bonus of $4 million.

Sakhalin to Land $3Bln

MOSCOW (MT) ? Direct payments from the Sahkalin-2 oil and gas production project in the Far East, developed under a production sharing agreement, are expected to land the federal budget $3 billion, Itar-Tass reported Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref as saying Wednesday.

Gref also said the 2002 investment in Sakhalin-2 project is expected to total $800 million and that Russian enterprises carry out about 70 percent of all Sakhalin-2 contracts.

MOST Ruled Bankrupt

MOSCOW (MT) ? A Moscow arbitration court on Wednesday declared MOST-Bank bankrupt.

The case was brought by Vneshtorgbank.

MOST-Bank owes a total of 11 billion rubles ($372 million) to 8,297 creditors. The bank?s assets were valued at about 2.5 billion rubles.

Andrei Intse, appointed external manager by the court, said the bankruptcy procedures would take from one to two years.

Vneshtorgbank bought a 100 percent stake in MOST-Bank in October 2000 for 5.5 million rubles to transform it into a retail subsidiary. But MOST-Bank?s managers were unable to reach an agreement with creditors, including the Finance Ministry, to which it owes 2 billion rubles.

Motorbike Deal

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) ? The Financial-Industrial Federation, founded by ex-oligarch Alexander Smolensky after his banking group SBS-Agro went belly up in 1998, bought a 65 percent share in the Irbitsk Motorcycle Plant, or IMZ, from United Heavy Machinery.

IMZ works at only 2 percent of capacity and its order book for 2001 contains a mere 2,500 bikes, a 40 percent year-on-year increase. About 65 percent of IMZ?s products are exported.

Smolensky Bank Plan

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) ? Alexander Smolensky is to reregister his loss-making Severo-Zapadny OVK bank in Moscow as an investment bank under SBS-Agro?s original name, Stolichny.

Severo-Zapadny OVK was previously called SBS-Agro Petersburg, part of the SBS-Agro group.

Smolensky said he plans to sell more than 70 percent in the new Stolichny, but no earlier than 2003.

For the Record

Annual inflation is likely to be between 11 percent and 13 percent in 2002 to 2003 and will fall to between 8 percent and 10 percent in 2004, Prime-Tass reported First Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Ivan Matyorov as saying Wednesday. (MT)

Standard & Poor?s on Wednesday assigned its single-B corporate credit rating to Russia?s state-owned oil major Rosneft, Prime-Tass reported S&P as saying in a statement.(MT)

The commission for the defense of foreign trade on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to sign a resolution lowering tariffs on audio and video equipment from 20 percent to 15 percent. (Vedomosti)

Unified Energy Systems, trying to balance a panoply of vested interests as it reforms the sector, said Wednesday it opened the floor to proposals on how to restructure regional utilities. (Reuters)