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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Debt Tender Possible

MOSCOW (Reuters) The government may announce an open tender to buy out part of its foreign debt at the end of 2002 to ease a peak in repayments in 2003, a Finance Ministry source said late Monday.

"Carrying out such a tender cannot be ruled out. Debt buyout will be done with a discount," the source told reporters.

He said the Cabinet would take a decision on a tender depending on the size of its coffers and market trends. "In any case, it will be a solid proposal. It will not be $50 million, it will be much more."

He said Russia could not perform a buyout now. "So far, our revenues are not high enough to enter the market with a valuable proposal," he said.

Russia is gearing up for 2003 debt payments that rise to between $18 billion and $19 billion from $14 billion this year and next.

Nauru Laundering

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters) The tiny Pacific-island nation of Nauru said Tuesday it passed a law to combat money laundering, ahead of an OECD sanctions deadline.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has listed Nauru, a 21-square-kilometer island just south of the equator between Australia and Hawaii, as not cooperating in the OECDs battle against money laundering.

The Philippines and Russia also face a demand to enact significant legislation to limit the movement of the proceeds of crime, or face financial countermeasures from the OECDs Financial Action Task Force on money laundering.

Nauru President Rene Harris said in a statement that his countrys 18-member single-chamber parliament has approved a law banning laundering and setting up a regulatory body to supervise offshore banking.

Little more than a near-exhausted phosphate mine and home to 12,000 people, Nauru has 400 banks, which the U.S. Treasury says received $70 billion in Russian deposits in 1998.

Russia signed into law this month a bill to combat money laundering and said it would set up a new body to step up the fight against the movement of criminal funds.

Duma Budget Date

MOSCOW (Reuters) The State Duma is likely to consider the draft 2002 budget in the first of four required readings on Sept. 28, a spokeswoman for the Dumas budget committee said Tuesday.

The Duma Council, which sets the chambers agenda, is to confirm the date of the first reading later, she said.

The draft, Russias first budget with a surplus, foresees gross domestic product growth of 4.3 percent, inflation of 10 percent to 13 percent and a surplus of 1.19 percent of GDP. It sets revenues at 1.998 trillion rubles ($67.95 billion) and spending at 1.872 trillion rubles.

If the Duma passes the bill in four readings, it will be sent to the Federation Council for approval and then the president would sign it into law.

Russian Oil in Greece?

ATHENS, Greece (Reuters) Greece said Monday it had received three expressions of interest for a stake in its largest, state-controlled refining company, Hellenic Petroleum.

Privatisation advisers National Bank of Greece, ETEVA Bank and UBS Warburg said in a statement they had received offers from Austrias OMV, Russias No. 2 oil major Yukos, and a joint offer from Russias No. 1 LUKoil with Greeces Latsis Group.

The advisers said they would immediately proceed to evaluate the expressions of interest, but did not say when this procedure would end.

Greece wants to sell off a 15 percent to 30 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum and reduce the states participation to below 51 percent. Hellenic has a 56 percent domestic market share in refined products and more than one-half of Greeces total refining capacity.

Bulgaria Prefers MiGs

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) NATO candidate Bulgaria has scrapped plans to replace some of its Russian-made military aircraft with U.S. F-16 jet fighters, a senior army officer said Tuesday.

The government will rather repair and refurbish its 21 Russian MiG-29 jet fighters so they meet the standards of NATO. Only three of the fighters are in working condition due to lack of spare parts, said General Dimitar Georgiev, air defense commander.

Bulgarian experts are negotiating with a Russian-EU consortium about upgrading the MiG-29s at a Bulgarian military plant in Plovdiv, 160 kilometers southeast of Sofia, ruling party lawmaker Nonka Matova said Monday.

Sibur Eyes Production

MOSCOW (MT) Petrochemical holding Sibur may for the first time produce gas for its refineries from fields in the Yamalo-Nenetsk autonomous district, Kommersant newpaper reported Sibur president Yakov Goldovsky as saying Monday.

Sibur usually buys gas for its factories from oil companies. However, prices for associated gas gas produced when drilling for oil have risen, leading Sibur to look into production.

Sibur and the Yamal-Nenetsk administration have agreed to set up a working group to examine Siburs possible participation in oil and gas fields in the district, the newspaper reported Governor Yury Neyelov as saying.

Caspian Summit Delay

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (Reuters) Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has postponed a summit of leaders of the five Caspian littoral states from October as it clashes with independence day celebrations, a government official said Tuesday. Turkmenistan has set no new date for the meeting.

Niyazov had planned a summit to settle the issue of dividing the energy-rich sea with the heads of state of Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Kazakhstan in late October.

But the 10th anniversary of Turkmen independence from the Soviet Union is Oct. 27, and the government has decreed a 10-day holiday starting Oct. 20.

LUKoil Soccer Score

SOFIA, Bulgaria (Reuters) The Bulgarian arm of Russian oil giant LUKoil is in talks to buy a majority stake in Bulgarian soccer club Neftochimik Bourgas, Neftochimiks president said Tuesday.

"We are close to the price we can accept for the 60 percent of the shares which I own," said Neftochimik president Hristo Portochanov.

Portochanov said the deal should be sealed before Sept. 9 when the Neftochimik club is due to hold a shareholders meeting.

Local newspaper Dnevnik reported Tuesday that Spartak Moscow, of which LUKoil is a major sponsor, would become Neftochimiks major owner.

Neftochimik is currently second in Bulgarias premier league.

$20M Shell Turnover

MOSCOW (MT) Shell is expecting turnover of $20 million from lubricant and motor oil sales in Russia in 2001, Steve Devon, general director of Shell East Europe, said Tuesday.

The companys share in the imported motor oil market jumped 5 percent in the first half of 2001 to 22 percent, said Devon. Imports accounts for about 15 percent, or 30,000 tons, of the total motor oil market. Shells nearest two competitors South Koreas Yukong and Germanys Mannol held 12 percent and 10 percent of the market, respectively.

Shell produces lubricants at a LUKoil subsidiary in Perm, but has no plans to produce motor oil locally, Devon said. The company imports motor oil from Finland.

Shell owns a network of five gas stations in the St. Petersburg area, with a sixth under construction. The company is allowed to build up to 25 stations, but further expansion depends on the success of the "pilot" program.

Shell does not plan to expand into oil refineries, said Devon.