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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Forex Suspended

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Russia suspended some foreign exchange trade on Thursday due to settlement problems in the United States following Tuesday?s terror attacks while the Central Bank intervened to support a slipping ruble.

The Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange said it had suspended afternoon trade. Dealers said problems also emerged earlier in the morning session when eight exchanges usually take part and set the Central Bank?s next-day official rate.

Dealers said no regional exchanges participated, only MICEX. The interbank market was trading normally.

"Due to technical problems at the Bank of New York, which is MICEX?s settlement bank for the U.S. dollar, trade in U.S. dollar instruments will not be held on MICEX?s ?afternoon? SELT session on Sept. 13," MICEX said in a statement.

The ruble?s weighted average for today settlement in the morning session ticked down to 29.4696 rubles per dollar after 29.4455 per dollar the previous day. The Central Bank set its official next-day at 29.47 after a previous 29.45.

Yukos Deal Approved

VILNIUS, Lithuania (Reuters) ? Lithuania?s competition watchdog said Thursday it approved the Mazheikiu Nafta oil concern?s equity-for-crude deal that would give Yukos a stake in the firm.

"The competition council has approved the deal, Yukos? acquisition of Mazheikiu Nafta [shares]," said Irena Kudzinskiene, an official with the competition council.

U.S. Williams, currently one-third owner and operator of Mazheikiu, and Yukos signed a preliminary agreement in June that would give Yukos a 26.85 percent stake in Mazheikiu for $150 million in investments and loans.

The deal would also reduce Williams? holding to the same size stake as Yukos would acquire and cut the government?s 59 percent stake to around 40 percent.

The deal would also guarantee annual 4.8 million tons of crude supply over 10 years from Yukos, a key to opening the door to much-needed financing for the refinery?s upgrade, the estimated cost of which is $400 million.

The transaction is expected to be closed in late October.

Reserves Drop $100M

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Russia?s foreign currency and gold reserves edged down $100 million to $37.4 billion in the week ending Sept. 7, the Central Bank said Thursday.

$1Bln Eurobond Issue

MOSCOW (MT) ? Russia plans to issue new Eurobonds next year worth $1.1 billion according to the Finance Ministry?s 2002 foreign borrowing program, Prime-Tass reported Thursday.

The total amount of Russian hard currency denominated securities circulating on the market is expected to rise $4.1 billion to $52.6 billion, including $41.9 billion in Eurobonds, as of Jan. 1, 2003.

The amount of domestic MinFin dollar-denominated bonds circulating on the market is expected to remain unchanged in 2002 at $10.8 billion.

Russia expects to reduce its debt to international financial organizations by $1.6 billion in 2002 to $13.4 billion as of Jan. 1, 2003.

The Finance Ministry plans to reduce its debt to the Central Bank by $100 million to $6.3 billion, the documents said.

Banking Consensus

MOSCOW (MT) ? The government and Central Bank have reached an agreement on the general principles of banking reform in Russia, which is expected to be discussed in the government meeting Sept. 27, Prime-Tass reported Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin as saying Thursday.

Earlier, the Central Bank and the government disagreed on a number of issues concerning the banking reform, with the bank defending a more moderate and gradual approach.

International financial institutions and foreign investors, who argued Russia?s banking system lacked transparency and could not provide adequate services to the country?s growing economy, have advocated the reform for a long time.

Few details of the proposed reform have been available. Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said the reform concept would be submitted to the government Sept. 17. The key element of the reform would be the "toughening" of minimum capital requirements for the banks, Gref said.

'Hold on Foreign Debt'

MOSCOW (MT) ? Holding a tender to buy back Russia?s foreign debt securities would be inappropriate at the moment because Russian securities prices "rose considerably" in the Western markets, Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Kolotukhin told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

However, Russian securities are likely to be influenced by the fall in the U.S. markets, though not crucially due to the good situation in the Russian economy, Kolotukhin said.

"Russian securities will fall due to uncertainty in the world markets, but they are likely to correct up soon," he added.