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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Norilsk Suit Rejected


A Moscow court has rejected a lawsuit against Norilsk Nickel challenging its purchase of a metal-trading firm that could have derailed Norilsk's restructuring plans, Interfax said Friday.

The Federal Securities Commission, the market watchdog that filed the suit, will appeal against the ruling by the Moscow arbitration court, Prime-Tass reported.

Norilsk said it was confident the appeal would not be successful. "We're absolutely sure of the legal rectitude of this course of action, we're sure we'll win at the next stage too," said spokesman Anatoly Komrakov.

Norilsk is currently undergoing a complicated restructuring that will eventually see currently traded Norilsk Nickel shares swapped for shares in Mining and Metals Co. Norilsk Nickel, the holding's core production unit, which accounts for up to 80 percent of the group's profits.

The commission's lawsuit challenged Norilsk's purchase of metals-trading company Norimet at an early stage of the restructuring, which was announced last September.

The commission said the Norimet deal should have been approved by a general meeting of Norilsk shareholders, and a court ruling in its favor could mean that shares issued by Norilsk or its subsidiaries would have to be annulled.

Norilsk plans to complete the share swap at the end of June and expects the FSC to register the results of the swap in early July. Komrakov said the group was still working to that timetable.

Export Tariff Cut


Russia will cut its export tariff for fuel oil to 20 euros per ton from the current 31 euros per ton, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin said Friday.

Kudrin, also the finance minister, told journalists the government will sign a resolution on the new duty in the next few days and that it will come into force the month after its publication.

The commission for protective measures in foreign trade, which met Friday and sets tariffs, also discussed increasing the export tariff on natural gas to 10 percent from 5 percent, Kudrin said.

"We think that we can now discuss increasing the gas tariff to 10 percent," he said, adding a decision would be made at the next meeting.

Summit Rescheduled


Russia and Turkmenistan have rescheduled a Caspian Sea summit planned for next weekend until fall, the Kremlin said Saturday.

The summit, at the Turkmen port of Turkmenbashi, has already been postponed once from March. The leaders of Turkmenistan, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan were due to attend the meeting.

"The presidents of Russia and Turkmenistan said they favored the continuation of intensive preparation for a Caspian summit to make sure it takes place in fall this year," the statement said.

The gathering was intended to reach an internationally acceptable definition of how the Caspian and its vast oil and gas reserves should be divided among the coastal states.

Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov also accepted President Vladimir Putin's invitation to visit Russia, but a date was not decided, the Kremlin statement said.

UES: No Conversion


Electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems has no immediate plans to convert its preferred shares into ordinaries, a company spokesman said Friday.

"We aren't considering a share conversion yet and we aren't planning to consider it right now," said the spokesman.

The spokesman clarified that while conversion could by law be put up for consideration after an April 28 annual meeting, the company could not say whether it would do so.

UES preference shares leapt nearly 20 percent in one morning's trade last week on a rumor that a conversion was imminent. They fell back when the company said no conversion had been discussed, but traders say buyers are still seeking the share.

AvtoVAZ Meets Target


Russia's largest car maker, AvtoVAZ, produced 188,078 cars in the first quarter, beating its plan by 2.5 percent and exceeding first-quarter 2000 results by 9 percent, the company said Friday.

AvtoVAZ produced 67,758 cars in March alone, up from 60,486 cars produced in February, it said in a statement.

AvtoVAZ's exports rose to 18,914 cars in the first quarter of this year from 15,550 cars in the same period last year.

Imports Up 10%

The Moscow Times

Imports in January and February 2001 were up 10.1 percent compared with the same period last year to $5 billion, Prime-Tass reported the State Customs Committee as saying Friday.

Imports from non-CIS countries were up 5.2 percent to $3.3 billion, while imports from CIS countries were up 20.9 percent to $1.7 billion.

Imports from non-CIS countries were dominated by machines and equipment (35 percent), foodstuffs (24 percent) and chemicals (23 percent); while imports from CIS countries were dominated by machines, metals and metal products and chemicals.

Imports of fuel and energy, textiles and textile products decreased by 14 percent.

Aeroflot Not Affected

The Moscow Times

A European ban on jets without specific technological upgrades will not affect Aeroflot, Prime-Tass reported the company's general director, Valery Okulov, as saying Friday.

Fifty-eight jets in the airline's fleet have the necessary oxygen, radio communications and anti-collision equipment to service its European routes. Aeroflot has invested $11.2 million in upgrading its fleet to European standards.

The original deadline for installing equipment to reduce noise levels and ecology hazards was March 31, but companies have requested extensions.

Okulov said Aeroflot does not plan to modernize the Tu-134, as the change of engines on them would demand millions of dollars per jet. The Tu-154M and jets of Western make will not have any problems with access to Europe.

Okulov said the Tu-134 would service Russian and CIS routes. Two more jets of the family will be obtained on a dry lease pattern.

Aeroflot will draft individual plans on modernizing Il-76, Il-86 and Il-62 jets. Okulov did not specify the costs of upgrading, but said the International Civil Aviation Organization puts the costs of installing the required ground and onboard equipment at $700,000 per jet.

Less Tourists in 2000

The Moscow Times

The number of foreigners who visited Russia in 2000 decreased 15.1 percent to some 2.6 million, while the number of Russians going abroad increased 59.7 percent, Sergei Shpilko, president of the Russian Tourist Agency Association, told Interfax.

The number of tourists to Russia from countries outside the CIS increased 15.1 percent to around 2.2 million, while the number of tourists from the CIS dropped by almost a third to around 380,000 due to a more than sevenfold drop in visitors from Ukraine.

There were some 4.5 million Russian tourists in 2000, up by 1.6 million. Some 1.7 million more tourists visited countries outside the CIS and 2.1 percent more tourists visited countries in the CIS. The most appealing countries for Russians were Poland, China, Turkey, Finland, Spain, Estonia, Germany, Cyprus and Italy.