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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

UES Hearing Delayed


The government has delayed its hearing on the controversial reform of electricity monopoly Unified Energy System by one day until Saturday, the prime minister's spokeswoman said Thursday.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's spokeswoman Tatyana Razbash did not provide any reason for the delay.

There are two plans for reforming Russia's electricity sector. One has been shepherded through revisions by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, and is now due to come up for government approval on Saturday.

A second was produced by a Kremlin working group set up to ease dissent over the government's first draft of the plan, based largely on proposals from UES management.

Norilsk Profits Down


The core unit of metals giant Norilsk Nickel saw its net profit fall 16 percent in the first quarter of 2001, hit by higher inflation and lower world nickel prices, a company official said Thursday.

The official, who asked not to be named, said net profit of Mining and Metals Company Norilsk Nickel (MMC Norilsk) by Russian accounting standards fell to 14.8 billion rubles ($509 million) from 17.66 billion rubles in the same period last year.

Russian accounting standards differ significantly from those used in the West.

Pre-tax profit fell to 18.93 billion rubles from 21.79 billion rubles.

"A fall in net profit was due to inflationary processes, the rise in the cost of supplies as well as a rise in employees' wages," the official said.

The average monthly wage at MMC Norilsk rose to 19,000 rubles ($655) in the first quarter from 12,000 rubles in the first quarter of 2000, he said.

Sales were up to 31.72 billion rubles from 29.61 billion rubles, while costs of goods sold rose 10.84 billion rubles from 6.72 billion rubles.

Reserves Hit $32.5Bln


Russia's foreign currency and gold reserves rose to an all-time high of $32.5 billion for the week ending May 11 after $32.3 billion on May 4, the Central Bank said Thursday.

The bank rarely comments on the details of its weekly forex report.

Ruble Set at 29.07


The ruble lost 5 kopeks against the dollar in the key morning session Thursday to hit a new low following recent remarks by the Central Bank head that the ruble had room for further depreciation, dealers said.

The ruble fell even more sharply on the interbank market and only the Central Bank's dollar intervention prevented it from falling deeper, they said.

The ruble's weighted average for today settlement edged down to 29.0734 per dollar in a unified session of eight exchanges after 29.0200 per dollar on Wednesday.

Based as usual on the results of the unified session, the Central Bank cut its official next-day rate to 29.07 rubles per dollar from the previous 29.02.

Suit Goes Up in Smoke

The Associated Press

A Moscow court on Thursday threw out a hard-line Russian lawmaker's lawsuit accusing cigarette makers Philip Morris and British American Tobacco Co. of deceiving consumers by concealing information about their Russian factories, a news report said.

Lawmaker Alexei Mitrofanov, a member of nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's political party, writer Alexander Sorokin and economist Sergei Cherednichenko filed a civil suit earlier this year demanding 500 million rubles (about $18 million) in damages. Mitrofanov said he was protesting the "absence of information about producers and of an address where complaints can be filed."

Moscow's Kuntsevo municipal court rejected the lawsuit on Thursday, Interfax reported. The report gave no details of the ruling.

While foreign cigarette brands dominate the Russian tobacco market, many of them are produced at factories in Russia. Packaging generally carries no information about the location where the cigarettes were made.

Sun Shines in Far East


A Vladivostok arbitration court this week granted Sun Interbrew the right to contest the results of an extraordinary shareholders' in leading Far Eastern brewery Pivoindustriya Primorya.

Sakatini Ltd., a subsidiary of Sun, was denied entrance to the November shareholders' meeting for allegedly having drafted its documents incorrectly. As a result, the milk and juice giant Wimm-Bill-Dann, which held a 67 percent stake in the company, passed a new charter and took all the seats on the board of directors.

Sun Interbrew holds a stake of 29 percent in Pivoindustriya. Wimm-Bill-Dann gave its controlling stake to TSEPKO or the Central Europe Beer Company, a new Moscow beer holding established by WBD in January, 2001.

On April 4, 2000, Sakatini representatives were again not admitted to a shareholders meeting.