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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

U.K. to Help in 2003


Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Monday that Britain, along with Germany, would help Russia restructure its huge foreign debt if the country ran into a repayment crunch in 2003.

Russia's foreign debt payments, about $14 billion this year, are set to rise to $18 billion in 2003 — a burden that could be unbearable for the country's tight budget.

"I have talked with [British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon] Brown ... and he said that if necessary he would agree to a rollover of Russia's debt to the Paris Club [of creditor nations]," Kudrin said. "We are speaking about a rollover of the 2003 debt for several years."

He said central bankers and finance ministers of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations had expressed similar views when they met in Palermo, Italy, at the end of February.

Illarionov on Debt

The Moscow Times

A debt-for-equities scheme proposed by Germany at a summit last week would not benefit Russia, Interfax reported presidential economic adviser Andrei Illarionov as saying Sunday.

"In the proposed scheme, liabilities would be exchanged for assets, while liabilities are usually exchanged for liabilities and assets for assets," Illarionov said. What the German delegation suggested in the St. Petersburg talks is non-conventional and hard to implement, he added.

Still, the exchange of views was useful because it clarified the positions of the two parties, Illarionov said.

He also said privatizing large Russian enterprises, as proposed by the Property Ministry, should not be hurried.

"As long as we obtain sizable revenue from the sale of [mineral] resources on foreign markets, the more valuable assets of state-run enterprises should be saved until the raw commodity prices fall and the prices of fixed assets increase," Illarionov said.

South Korea in Sakhalin-2?

The Moscow Times

Russia has asked South Korea to participate in the Sakhalin-2 project in exchange for natural gas, Itar-Tass reported Monday.

The offer was made at last week's Russian-South Korean energy committee in Seoul, the Sakhalin region administration said.

The Sakhalin Energy Consortium will begin receiving natural gas in 2006 after building the liquefied petroleum gas plant.

Russian participants in the session also suggested South Korean corporations join future consortiums for developing hydrocarbon resources on the Sakhalin shelf.

Meat Ban to Continue


Russia's ban on imports of European meat will continue at least until April 26, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Monday.

The ban, imposed March 26 after foot-and-mouth disease struck several European countries, will remain in force until 21 days pass without reports of fresh cases, Gordeyev said.

Russia imports 30 percent of its meat from Europe, but Gordeyev said the ban has had a negligible impact on the market.

Russia last week removed a ban on fish, fish products and fishmeal, poultry, powdered egg, milk and ready-made meat products from several European countries.

RTS Down 1.23%


Russia's key share index closed off Monday and traders said the market was all but paralyzed by a public holiday in Western Europe.

Thin volumes were concentrated in Unified Energy Systems as the RTS index closed off 1.23 percent at 169.26 on volumes of around $8.56 million. The broader Reuters Russian Composite was off 1.87 percent at 1,404.38.

"If you take away the volumes in UES, there will be nothing else left," said Oleg Martynenko of Alfa Bank. UES, Russia's most liquid share, lost 2.94 percent to close at $0.0990.

Michael Stein of United Financial Group equity sales said the index sank as the U.S. indices looked set to open weaker.

"I think what you are seeing today is a light markdown in prices to reflect the uncertainty in U.S. equity markets, where things appear to be opening lower," Stein said.