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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

$1Bln Jeep Plan

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) Steel giant Severstal plans to build a new, $1 billion jeep facility at its subsidiary Ulyanovsk automotive plant, or UAZ, by 2008.

The plant aims to reach full capacity 250,000 off-road vehicles a year by 2010, Severstal deputy director and UAZ chairman Vadim Shvetsov said Monday.

The prototype, designed by AvtoVAZ engineers and designers, should be ready by 2003. The jeep will have a 2.2 to 3 liter diesel engine produced by a sister company, the Zavolzhsky motor plant, or ZMZ. The planned price tag is $20,000, placing it out of competition with AvtoVAZ and U.S. General Motors planned Chevrolet Niva.

In July, AvtoVAZ and ZMZ signed a letter of intent to produce up to 220,000 diesel engines per year, based on a model made by Austrias AVL.

$1Bln LUKoil Deal?

MOSCOW (MT) LUKoil, the countrys top oil producer, said Monday it is interested in investing up to $1 billion in a Belarus petrochemical plant. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said after a meeting with LUKoil head Vagit Alekperov in Minsk that he was ready to guarantee LUKoils investment if both sides could come to a mutually beneficial agreement, Interfax reported.

Alekperov said LUKoil and Belarus representatives would submit a proposal to Lukashenko within a month. He said LUKoil is eyeing two companies Naftan and Polimer for the investment.

Lukashenko called the visit "evidence that people are sure of the stability of the course taken by the countys leaders." Alekperov praised Belarus for having created a "favorable investment climate."

Non-CIS Imports Up

MOSCOW (MT) Imports from non-CIS countries in the first three weeks of August rose 50.5 percent on the year, but fell 3.8 percent on the month to $1.661 billion, the State Customs Committee said Monday, Prime-Tass reported.

According to the committees preliminary data, non-CIS imports this year totaled $17.405 billion as of Aug. 20.

Food imports rose 83.3 percent on the year but fell 13.2 percent on the month to $383.5 million. Chemical products imports rose 34.8 percent on the year, but fell 3 percent on the month to $307.1 million.

Machinery imports rose 45.2 percent on the year, unchanged on the month, totaling $621.3 million, while textiles imports rose 67.7 percent on the year and up 16.6 percent on the month to $82.0 million.

Ruble Firms to 29.35

MOSCOW (Reuters) The ruble firmed slightly against the dollar Monday as banks prepared to close their books for the month, dealers said. They said the ruble is expected to remain stable this week.

The rubles weighted average for today settlement in the key unified morning session edged up to 29.352 rubles per dollar from Fridays 29.374. The Central Bank hiked its official next-day rate to 29.35 rubles per dollar after a previous 29.37 rubles.

Rubles on the interbank market were traded at 29.352 to 29.372 per dollar.

Alarko Murder Arrest

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Reuters) Turkish police have arrested a teenage boy on suspicion of murdering a leading Turkish-born Jewish businessman found stabbed to death in a Moslem cemetery Saturday, the state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

Police discovered the body of Uzeyir Garih, a business magnate known for his liberal views, in the Istanbul graveyard less than two hours after he had been killed. He had been stabbed eight times.

Garih was co-chairman of Alarko Holding, a major construction group active in Russia and Central Asia.

The motive behind the killing was unclear. Television channels quoted security officials as saying the murder was unlikely to have been politically motivated. But Anatolian said a police search of the graveyard Sunday turned up a sack with Allah written on it in blood.

Oil Tariff Adjustment

MOSCOW (Reuters) The government will adjust the rates of export tariffs on crude oil for 2002 in accordance with a new law on the customs tariff that is to become effective from Jan. 1, a senior government official said Monday.

"[The government] will need to have a mechanism handy in order to set oil tariffs in accordance with the new law," said Andrei Kushnirenko, secretary of the government commission for protective measures in foreign trade.

The bill on the customs tariff has been passed by both parliament chambers and has now to be signed into law by the president. It proposes setting maximum tariff rates for crude oil based on the Russian Urals blend price in the Mediterranean and in Rotterdam every two months.

No tariff will be set if the price of a barrel of Urals is below $15 a barrel. A tariff of 35 percent of the customs value will be set at the Urals price of $15 to $25. A 40 percent tariff will be set when the Urals price exceeds $25 per barrel.

Kushnirenko said the commissions working group will discuss on Tuesday and Wednesday in particular whether the government should always stick to maximum tariff rates or if the tariffs may be set at lower levels.

Sugar Quota Approved

MOSCOW (Reuters) Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has signed a resolution approving a raw sugar import quota of 3.65 million tons for 2002, the government press office said Monday.

It said in a statement that an auction to award 2002 sugar import quotas would be held within a month after the resolution was officially published in government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, but it did not say when the publication might take place.

Normally, a government resolution is published within days after the press office announcement.

RusAl Eyes UralAZ

MOSCOW (MT) Ruspromavto, a subsidiary of Russian Aluminum, is likely to buy at least 51 percent in truck producer UralAZ by October, Pavel Yakovlev, executive director of the plant, said Monday, Prime-Tass reported.

Yakovlev also said 25-percent-plus-one-share in UralAZ would be transferred to the Russian government at the request of the Defense Ministry.

UralAZ is a major producer of trucks for the military. Yakovlev said UralAZ plans to increase its output to 12,500 trucks in 2002 from 10,000 expected this year. Yakovlev said sales revenues were expected to reach $350 million in 2002 from $250 million to $260 million expected this year.

Yakovlev also said the plant planned to export 4,600 trucks this year, including 3,000 to Iraq, the news agency reported. He also said the plant mulled constructing an assembly plant in Latin America but did not elaborate.

Zambia Debt Write-off

MOSCOW (MT) Russia agreed to write off $560 million, or 80 percent, of Zambias sovereign and commercial debt to the Soviet Union, Zambian Finance Minister Katele Kalumba said in a statement Saturday, Itar-Tass reported.

According to the agreement signed Friday in Moscow, Zambia is due to pay the remaining $138.3 million over 33 years, the agency said. No other details were available.

After collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia inherited the rights to all foreign debt owed to the Soviet Union.