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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

20% Inflation?

BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) Ч The government may raise its 2001 inflation target to 18 percent or more from 14 percent to 16 percent, Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko said Sunday, three days after the government raised the forecast from between 12 percent and 14 percent.

"The inflation target is already being discussed by the government and different figures are being mentioned. The figures will be higher. Some people are speaking about 18 percent, some are talking about a similar rate to last year of 20.2 percent," he said.

Gerashchenko, in Basel to attend the Bank for International Settlements annual meeting Monday, was keen to stress that inflation targeting was not an appropriate measure for the economy.

"Inflation fever is less important than any other indications of the situation in the real economy," he said. "ItТs too early for us at the Central Bank to make some kind of inflation targeting because the crisis was just three years ago Е and our internal basic price structure is wrong."

Vilnius Fears Gazprom

VILNIUS, Lithuania (Reuters) Ч Lithuania plans to sell 75 percent of state-owned gas utility Lietuvos Dujos , but will retain a 17 percent stake in the firm, Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas said Tuesday.

Paksas said the government hoped a Western investor would buy 34 percent, which, combined with the stateТs 17 percent, would prevent another company from taking control of the firm.

Some local lawmakers have objected to the government reducing its 92 percent stake in the utility as they fear that Lietuvos DujosТ sole gas supplier, Russian giant Gazprom, may move to take a controlling stake.

Gazprom in Hungary

BUDAPEST, Hungary (Reuters) Ч HungaryТs CIB Bank said Wednesday it had sold its 24.8 percent package in Hungarian chemicals group BorsodChem, without identifying the buyer or price.

The bank added in a brief statement in the official bourse gazette that it sold the stake June 11.

CIB, the Hungarian arm of ItalyТs Banca Commerciale Italiana, purchased the stake in BorsodChem from Irish-based Milford Holdings, a proxy of RussiaТs Gazprom, in January this year.

Russian chemicals company Sibur, which is controlled by Gazprom, has a buy option for the stake.

Sakhalin-Japan Pipe

TOKYO (Reuters) Ч A Japanese consortium including Itochu Corp. and U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil is considering piping natural gas from the Far East island of Sakhalin to Japan, an Itochu spokesman said Wednesday.

The pipeline, if built, would be the first connecting resource-poor Japan to an overseas gas field.

The spokesman at the Japanese trading house was responding to a report in the Shimbun business daily that the firms aimed to begin producing and supplying gas around 2008.

"The final decision has not been made yet, but we are making a study along those lines," the spokesman said.

Construction of the pipeline between the Sakhalin-1 gas field and JapanТs northernmost island of Hokkaido would begin in 2005, the report said.

$230M Loan Talks

MOSCOW (Reuters) Ч Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said after talks Friday with a delegation of Japanese businessmen that the government was ready to guarantee a Japanese bank loan for a refinery upgrade.

Khristenko said the state would guarantee the $230 million loan from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation to re-equip Yaroslavneftsintez, a Volga region refinery.

The 200-strong delegation also met President Vladimir Putin and handed him the results of a business poll saying more government guarantees on investment projects were needed, especially on low-return infrastructure projects.

Spy Plane Tender

MOSCOW (AP) Ч Russian airline Polyot has won the tender for the right to transport the U.S. Navy spy plane that landed in China out of the country and back to the United States, a company official said Saturday.

Leonid Shirobokov, a spokesman for Polyot, told Interfax and Itar-Tass that his company had won the tender, which had been announced last week by the U.S. Defense Department.

"Now the airline is preparing to perform this task," Shirobokov said.

He said a Russian An-124-100, or Ruslan, will take the EP-3 spy plane from the military airfield on the Chinese island of Hainan, but he did not give a date for the operation.

Pentagon officials said chartering an Antonov, described as the largest cargo aircraft in the world, was necessary because China refused to allow a U.S. military plane to come for the aircraft.

St. Pete Pays Coupon

ST. PETERSBURG (Reuters) Ч The St. Petersburg city government has transferred funds to pay its latest $7.5 million Eurobond coupon due June 18, the head of the city finance committee said Wednesday.

St. Petersburg issued the $300 million Eurobond with a semi-annual coupon in 1997. The city redeemed more than $100 million in 1999 and 2000.

15 Years for Pyramid

MOSCOW (Reuters) Ч A Moscow court Saturday jailed for 15 years one of the masterminds of a failed pyramid finance scheme that robbed thousands of Russians of their savings, Itar-Tass reported.

Vladimir Dryamov, who was extradited from Greece, where he fled in the mid-1990s, was convicted of defrauding savers of more than 17 billion rubles, around $590,000 at current rates, the agency quoted the Moscow public prosecutorТs office as saying.

The ruble was worth considerably more in the mid-1990s, when pyramid schemes blossomed offering investors huge rates of interest on their savings.

But the schemes, which only managed to make interest payments initially by attracting the savings of new investors, later collapsed, cheating thousands. An estimated 200,000 people lost their money in DryamovТs Tibet scheme.

Tax Revenues Up 30%

MOSCOW (AP) Ч Tax revenues rose 30 percent in the first five months of 2001 compared with the same period last year, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said Wednesday.

Speaking at an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Gref attributed the boost to reforms of the countryТs complicated tax system that came into effect this year.

GrefТs remarks came as a team of economists from the International Monetary Fund arrived in Moscow on Wednesday to examine the basic parameters of the governmentТs draft 2002 budget, an IMF official said.