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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Reserves Fall $1.3Bln

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's gold and currency reserves have made one of their sharpest drops in two years, but analysts said Thursday the country still had enough funds in its coffers to pay debts and support the ruble.

The Central Bank earlier said that the reserves fell to $37.3 billion by Nov. 30 from $38.6 billion by Nov. 23.

"The fall in reserves was connected mostly with the repayment on Nov. 27 of the Finance Ministry's debut Eurobond," the Central Bank said in a statement. The Eurobond was worth $1 billion, and Russia also paid $46 million interest.

Vladimir Tikhomirov, an analyst at NIKoil, said the reserves that the Central Bank reported combined its own and those of the Finance Ministry, which repaid the bond. The remainder was spent on interventions on the foreign exchange market to support the ruble.

"This is not a big problem," Tikhomirov said of the reserves' drop.

EBRD Retail Stake

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has purchased a blocking stake in Pyatyorochka supermarkets, an EBRD official said Wednesday, the first time Western capital has been invested in a Russian retail chain.

The stake is more than 25 percent, the official said, but less than a controlling share. The value of the deal was not released, though UFG commodities analyst Alexei Krivoshapko said it could be worth around $40 million.

Pyatyorochka, which anticipates turnover of $200 million this year, has 65 stores in St. Petersburg and 15 in Moscow.

Chevy-Niva Debut Set

MOSCOW (MT) -- The AvtoVAZ-General Motors joint venture plans to release its first Chevrolet-Niva car on Sept. 23, 2002, Interfax reported.

The joint venture -- set up by AvtoVAZ, General Motors, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development -- is to develop the car in three phases, General Motors CIS vice president David Herman said at an auto conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

The first phase provides for arranging the full-scale production of the car, called the VAZ-2123, which will be sold under the Chevrolet-Niva brand. The second envisions the manufacturing of a new modern engine and transmission, and the third could mark the production of a totally new car.

The Chevrolet-Niva will cost no more than $8,000 on the Russian market, Herman said.

Skoda Moscow Plant

MOSCOW (MT) -- Czech carmaker Skoda Auto plans to begin building a plant in the Moscow region sometime next year, Interfax reported an Industry, Technology and Science Ministry official as saying Thursday.

The plant will have a projected output of 20,000 vehicles per year, said Nikolai Sorokin, head of the ministry's department for the development of the auto sector. He added that Skoda was in negotiations with the Moscow regional government.

Skoda has selected a plot of land in the Moscow region for the factory; however, a fallback location had been chosen in the Leningrad region, Sorokin said.

Skoda management was worried by the potential lack of trained personnel locally, Sorokin said.

Last year, 2,924 Skoda cars were sold on the Russian market, up 55.6 percent on 1999. Between January and September 2001, Skoda sales in Russia jumped by 202.5 percent to 5,324 vehicles.

$3.2Bln Tax Loss?

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Tax Ministry warned Thursday that the government could lose up to 100 billion rubles ($3.2 billion) -- or 5 percent of 2002 budget revenues -- once the 24 percent flat tax on profit comes into effect Jan. 1, Interfax reported.

Karen Oganyan, head of the ministry's profit-tax department, said the calculations were made in conjunction with the Finance Ministry.

Tax experts said profit-tax revenue was not threatened.

"While they may suffer some reductions from companies that are paying taxes at full levels, it should bring more companies into the light by reducing the tax burden and having these," said Steve Henderson of Deloitte & Touche.

Oganyan said 417.7 billion rubles in profit tax had been paid into the consolidated budget in the first 10 months of 2001 -- 38.1 percent more than in the same period in 2000.

Big Firms, Big Taxes

MOSCOW (MT) -- The 4,122 largest enterprises paid 58 percent of all taxes, or 755.3 billion rubles ($25.21 billion), in the January to October period, Interfax reported a Tax Ministry official as saying Thursday.

Some 531 billion rubles, or 40.5 percent of the total, were provided by 256 organizations that the ministry monitors on a daily basis -- including Gazprom, Unified Energy Systems, the Railways Ministry and oil majors.

In total, the budget received 1.3 trillion rubles in taxes over the first 10 months of this year.