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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Golden Loses $3.5M



MOSCOW (Reuters) Ч Top Internet provider Golden Telecom, quoted on Nasdaq, said Wednesday its second-quarter and first-half losses had widened, but was confident of equaling or beating year targets.

The company reported a second-quarter net loss of $3.5 million, up from $1.9 million in the same period last year. The first-half loss came in at $7.4 million versus $5.2 million.

Revenues rose to $33.9 million from $26.9 million. The company said the widening second-quarter deficit was due to an increase in amortization of intangible assets and goodwill as a result of its Internet-related acquisitions during 2000.

The second-quarter loss narrowed from the first quarter, when Golden reported a $3.9 million loss.

Golden, although small in international terms, is watched by emerging-markets investors as an indicator of the potential of RussiaТs telecoms market and Internet, a field which it leads.




N. Korea Fishing Feud



TOKYO (Reuters) Ч Japan said Wednesday it regretted a Russian decision to allow North Korea to fish in waters near the disputed Russian-held Kuril Islands, which are claimed by Tokyo.

Tokyo had already protested to Russia and South Korea after South Korean ships began fishing in waters near the islands last week.

Chief Cabinet spokesman Yasuo Fukuda told a news conference that Tokyo had confirmed that Russia, in an agreement between governments, had given North Korea permission to catch 8,000 tons of fish in waters around the islands.

"We have conveyed our position to Russia that it cannot allow such operations," Fukuda said.

An official at JapanТs Fisheries Agency said it was not known when, or if, North Korean vessels might actually start fishing in the area. The official said Russia had also granted permission to fish in the disputed waters to Ukraine, a move that the Foreign MinistryТs press secretary, Norio Hattori, said Tokyo has already protested against.

Japan has said South Korean fishing vessels operating near the islands are violating Japanese law and a fisheries pact between the two countries, but South Korea argued that its agreement with Russia had no political significance and was in accordance with standard international practice.




$55M LUKoil Buy



MOSCOW (MT) Ч LUKoil, RussiaТs largest oil producer, said Wednesday it had agreed to buy a 55 percent stake in oil exploration company AmKomi for $55.5 million, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

LUKoil said it would pay $38.5 million to Cyprus-registered Aminex for the AmKomi stake and assume a further $17 million in debt owed to the International Finance Corp. arm of the World Bank.

The purchase is to bring LUKoilТs stake in AmKomi to 65 percent.

The remaining 35 percent belongs to the Property Ministry of the Komi republic.

AmKomiТs main assets are one exploration and nine production licenses in the Komi republic in RussiaТs Far North. Its fields are estimated to hold up to 20.8 million tons of oil.




Gold Reserves Up



MOSCOW (Reuters) Ч The value of gold reserves held by the Central Bank reached $3.807 billion on Aug. 1, up from $3.801 billion on July 1, the bank said Wednesday.

The Central Bank officially values its gold reserves at $300 per troy ounce.

The bankТs statement, on its Internet site at www.cbr.ru, said its total gold and foreign exchange reserves had increased to $36.502 billion by Aug. 1, from $35.053 billion on July 1.




Unemployment Down



MOSCOW (MT) Ч The number of people registered as unemployed has fallen by 1 million since January 1999, a government economic research center said, according to Interfax.

Between March and June of this year, the number of registered unemployed fell by 102,000. The figure is expected to drop by 17,000 between now and the end of September.

The center said the registered unemployed would account for 1.4 percent of the economically active population by this fall, the agency reported.




Rostelecom Profits



MOSCOW (Reuters) Ч Russian national long-distance carrier Rostelecom posted a 1.03 billion ruble ($35.14 million) net profit according to Russian accounting standards for the first half of 2001, news agencies reported Tuesday.

Rostelecom posted a Russian-standard profit of 626.06 million rubles for the first half of 2000.

Prime-Tass quoted sources in the company as saying revenues were 9.02 billion rubles, up from 8.29 billion rubles in the first half of 2000. The cost of goods rose to 6.66 billion rubles from 4.78 billion rubles.

The company usually releases international-standard accounts several months after its Russian-standard earnings release.




Customs Bribery Arrest



MOSCOW (AP) Ч The chief of a district customs office in Moscow was arrested for taking a $5,200 bribe, the State Customs Committee said Wednesday.

A committee spokesman said Sergei Perevedentsev, chief of the Lianozovsky customs office, was caught by the committeeТs internal security department and other law enforcement agencies accepting the bribe Tuesday.

If found guilty, he could face from seven to 12 years in prison.

The customs service is notorious for long bureaucratic delays, and Russian and foreign businessmen often complain that bribes are expected in return for speeding the process. Yet arrests for bribery or bribe-taking are rare, and very few such cases ever reach court.




Caspian Diplomacy



MOSCOW (Reuters) Ч Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Akhani said Wednesday that a solution on how to carve up the riches of the Caspian Sea, which has sparked tensions in recent weeks, needed flexibility by all five nations involved.

He said IranТs position remained that each state should get 20 percent of the landlocked sea, but Tehran was ready for talks that would thrash out a solution on who owned how much of waters lying over billions of dollars of oil wealth under the seabed.

Akhani was speaking in Moscow after talks with RussiaТs official for the Caspian, Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny. Iran has insisted that treaties between the former Soviet Union and Tehran are still the only valid documents for deciding on the use of the sea.

Akhani said Iran and the Soviet Union divided the waters 50-50, meaning that Iran and the four new states created by the fall of communism should split the sea five ways.