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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Sibneft Loaned $250M

MOSCOW (Reuters) Dutch ABN Amro Bank agreed to loan $250 million to Russias sixth-largest oil producer Sibneft, Russias main market watchdog said Thursday.

The three-year loan carries an interest of 3.75 percent over the London Interbank Offered Rate, the Federal Securities Commission said in a statement.

A Sibneft spokesman said the company would use the money to boost investment in oil production and repay some credits.

He said Sibnefts debt would rise to $450 million by the end of 2001 from $350 million at the beginning of 2001. He added Sibneft was still committed to issue $250 million of Eurobonds by the end of 2001.

Sibneft said last week it would pay a record $612 million in interim dividends for 2001. Some analysts cut Sibnefts rating, saying a record payout was unnecessary and would leave the company dependent on debt to finance investment.

Premeditated Failures

MOSCOW (MT) Premeditated bankruptcies account for some 30 percent of the total bankruptcy cases in Russia, Interfax on Thursday reported the head of the Federal Service for Financial Improvement and Bankruptcy, or FSFO, as saying.

This year 11,800 bankruptcy cases were initiated, of which 13 percent were at the initiative of the FSFO, while the rest were at the request of commercial creditors. In total, some 27,000 are currently being considered, 23,000 of which are at the stage of bankruptcy proceedings.

The low qualifications of arbitration managers were a serious problem, FSFO head Tatyana Trefilova told the Trud-7 newspaper. Last year, 232,000 managers were warned, 97 licenses were frozen, 17 were revoked and 64 applications for termination were sent to court. In 2001, the figures will be higher, Trefilova said.

Trefilova said, however, that as of February under the new law on licensing arbitration managers, licenses would not be required removing one of her departments most important means of regulating the bankruptcy market.

MGOK Cleared

MOSCOW (MT) The Kursk region arbitration court has fulfilled a request by the regional prosecutors office to terminate the bankruptcy case against Mikhailovsky GOK, Interfax reported Thursday.

The Kursk region prosecutor who had submitted the original complaint in early August filed to withdraw the charges Tuesday.

The original complaint against MGOK, the nations second-largest producer of iron ore, was based on a review of the companys 1999-2000 financial performance carried out by the regional branch of the Federal Service for Financial Improvement and Bankruptcy, or FSFO.

The FSFO concluded that MGOKs owners were planning to deliberately bankrupt the company, but later reversed the finding.

CPI Said to Stay Flat

MOSCOW (Reuters) Consumer prices are likely to stay flat or edge up just 0.1 percent in August after a 0.5 percent rise in July if current price trends continue, the State Statistics Committee said Thursday.

The committee said prices fell 0.1 percent in the period between Aug. 14 to 20. Consumer prices were flat since the start of the month, it said.

Reserves Up $600M

MOSCOW (Reuters) Foreign currency and gold reserves rose $600 million to a new post-Soviet high of $37.6 billion in the week to Aug. 17, the Central Bank said Thursday.

Reserves have risen 34.2 percent from $28 billion at the beginning of 2001.

GAZ Posts $10M Loss

MOSCOW (Reuters) Russias debt-ridden No. 2 automaker GAZ said Thursday it had made a 300 million ruble ($10.21 million) net loss in the first half of 2001, but aimed to cut losses by the end of the year.

GAZ director general Viktor Belyayev said management had been drafting a new strategy and struggling to restructure debt of $500 million accumulated over previous years. The company was also actively looking for a strategic partner to build new cars.

He did not give a comparative year-on-year figure, but said GAZ planned to break even in the third and fourth quarters. GAZ posted a 5.15 billion-ruble net loss for the year 2000 on 29.60 billion rubles in net sales.

LUKoils Baltic Pumps

VILNIUS, Lithuania (Reuters) Lithuanias competition watchdog said Thursday it had allowed LUKoils local arm to run nine filling stations that were put up as collateral for an 8.5 million lita ($2.2 million) debt of ailing local firm Lietuvos Kuras.

LUKoil Baltija Servisas owns 75 filling stations in Lithuania and holds some 20 percent of that market, said Raimundas Dabravalskas, deputy director of the company.

Sakhalin Stonewalls

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) Sakhalin Energy, which operates the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas production-sharing agreement, has refused to give information on its activities to the Economic Development and Trade Ministry.

"The company is not obliged to provide the Russian party with the requested information you put our right to work under doubt," Steven McVeigh, executive director of Sakhalin Energy, told the ministry earlier this month.

The ministry, which is responsible for PSAs, said it wants to establish a transparent reporting system allowing it to know whom Sakhalin Energy concludes agreements with and make sure that subcontractor tenders are conducted fairly.

The Sakhalin-2 project which includes RoyalDutch/Shell, Mitsui and Mitsubishi was signed prior to adoption of the Law on Production-Sharing Agreements in 1997.

Under the law, the operators of "old" projects such as Sakhalin-2 are not required to observe norms that were not included in their agreements.

The earlier projects, however, have not been approved by parliament and the president and therefore should be regarded as ordinary civil law agreements, said Oleg Koshikov, head of the production-sharing department of the Economic Development and Trade Ministry.

Trade Increase Expected

MOSCOW (MT) Foreign trade turnover is expected to rise in 2002 to $164.4 billion compared with $156 billion expected this year if the current favorable economic trends prevail, Prime-Tass reported the Economic Development and Trade Ministry as saying.

According to the ministrys forecast, exports in 2002 may reach $108.5 billion and imports $55.9 billion. The ministry estimated this years exports at $105.5 billion, and imports at $50.5 billion.

Winter Fuel Tariffs

MOSCOW (Reuters) Russia may not need to increase its fuel oil export tariff this winter, although it is ready to do so if necessary, Energy Minister Igor Yusufov was reported as saying Thursday.

Russia regulates fuel oil exports in the winter to ensure that domestic needs will be met. "Were looking at the possibility, but at the moment it looks like there are enough stocks to see us through the winter period," RIA Novosti quoted Yusufov as saying.

Last winter, the fuel oil export tax hit a high of 31 euros ($28.30) a ton. Export quotas were also in place until March 1. The current fuel oil export tariff is 20 euros a ton.

Unemployment to Rise

MOSCOW (MT) Unemployment is expected to rise to between 1.2 million and 1.3 million in 2002 from the 1.1 million forecast for this year, Prime-Tass reported the Economic Development and Trade Ministry as saying.

Under the optimistic scenario, the number of registered unemployed workers should reach 1.2 million, or 1.7 percent of the economically active population.

The pessimistic scenario envisions unemployment at 1.3 million, or 1.8 percent of the economically active population, the ministry said in a report Wednesday.

This year, the jobless rate is expected to remain at the 2000 level, the ministry said.

UES Faces Inquiry

MOSCOW (MT) The Anti-Monopoly Ministry has said it has ordered an investigation into the alleged violation of anti-monopoly legislation by power grid monopoly Unified Energy Systems, Prime-Tass reported Thursday.

Rosenergoatom, the state nuclear power monopoly controlling most of Russias nuclear plants, said the ministry wanted to probe UESs refusal to export electricity produced by nuclear power plants. The hearing will be held Friday.