Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

MTS Wins Tender

MOSCOW (MT) ? No. 1 cellular provider Mobile TeleSystems has been declared the preliminary winner of a GSM license in Belarus, said a spokesman for Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.

"The president said today that according to the preliminary information that he has, MTS won the tender," spokesman Nikolai Borisevich told Reuters.

MTS declined to comment on its plans for the country, pending proper notification from the government. The official price for the license was $7.5 million, but a source familiar with the deal said MTS paid more than $10 million.

Original tender terms for Belarus? second GSM license called for the winner to participate in a 51 percent state-owned joint venture. MTS has said it would invest $200 million over 10 years.

In June, the applicant pool was narrowed to five and included Russian companies Alfa Eko, a Vimpelcom shareholder, and St. Petersburg-based Northwest GSM. MTS had been considered the front-runner, and reports emerged late last month that Alfa was prematurely booted from the contest.

Of Belarus? approximately 10 million people, less than 1 percent are mobile subscribers, compared to about 3.5 percent in Russia.

H1 GDP Up 5%

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Gross domestic product rose 5 percent in the first six months of the year, the State Statistics Committee said Monday.

The figure was lower than an earlier estimate by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry of 5.4 percent.

The committee also said in a statement that GDP in the second quarter grew 5.1 percent after a rise of 4.9 percent in the first quarter.

Gazprom Reshuffle

MOSCOW (MT) ? Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller has further reshuffled the gas monopoly?s management, appointing Yelena Vasilyeva chief accountant and deputy CEO.

Since Miller was appointed Gazprom chief earlier this year with President Vladimir Putin?s blessing, top management has witnessed a changing of the guard. In addition to appointing Vasilyeva on Friday, Boris Kuzmin was made chief of the personnel department.

Aeroflot CEO

MOSCOW (MT) ? Aeroflot?s new board of directors on Monday re-elected Transportation Minister Sergei Frank as chairman, the company said.

The board was elected at an extraordinary meeting Sept. 6 that was called by one of Aeroflot?s new shareholders ? the offshore Carroll Trading company, which owns 10 percent of the carrier.

More Grain?

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? The Agriculture Ministry raised on Monday its forecast for the country?s 2001 grain harvest to 75 million to 76 million tons, up from a previous 72 million to 75 million tons and last year?s 65.4 million.

Sergei Kravtsov, the deputy head of the ministry?s agricultural department, told a briefing the ministry also saw the country?s sugar beet harvest on a par with 2000 levels, at about 14 million tons, and the sunseed harvest at 3.5 million to 4 million tons after 3.9 million in 2000.

"I believe that this quantity will be enough to satisfy all [the country?s] needs," he said of each crop.

EC Permission

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) ? Eco Telecom Ltd., a Gibraltar-based unit of Alfa Group, and Norway?s Telenor East Invest have been granted permission by the European Union to gain joint control of Vimpelcom, the European Commission said Monday.

The measure was handled under the commission?s simplified procedure whereby the competition authority clears mergers within one month of notification if there are no objections.

Yukos, China Talks

BEIJING (Reuters) ? China?s two state oil giants are in talks with Yukos on the possibility of joint oil and gas exploration in Russia, the China Daily reported Monday.

"We are discussing with the China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petrochemical Corp. [Sinopec] to tap oil and gas resources in Russia," the newspaper quoted Yukos official Yevgeny Novikov as saying.

Yukos has held several rounds of talks with the CNPC on developing reserves in western Siberia, it said.

Oil Tariff Reduction?

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? A government panel that sets trade tariffs has recommended raising the fuel oil export tariff to 32 euros ($29.30) per ton from 20 euros, a deputy economic development and trade minister said Monday.

Dmitry Sukhoparov said the commission for protective measures in foreign trade had also recommended lowering gas oil and motor gasoline tariffs to 32 euros per ton from 39 euros.

The commission earlier Monday recommended lowering the natural gas export tariff to 5 percent of the customs value from 10 percent.