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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Moody's Upgrades

MOSCOW (MT) ? Moody's Investors Service has changed the outlook on the "B3" long-term foreign currency deposit ratings of six Russian banks to positive from stable, Prime-Tass reported Moody's as saying Friday.

The banks affected by the action include commercial banks Alfa Bank, Aljba Alliance Commercial Bank, Gazprombank, JSB Rosbank, and state-controlled Vneshekonombank and Vneshtorgbank.

"This action follows the recent announcement by Moody's that it changed the outlook on the 'B3' foreign currency bank deposit ceiling of the Russian Federation to positive from stable," said a Moody's press release.

Moody's also changed to positive from stable the outlook on the "B2" rating of the EMTN program of Alfa-Russia Finance B.V., which is fully guaranteed by Alfa Bank.

Kemerovo Sues Energo

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) ? The Kemerovo region administration has filed suits against local utility Kuzbassenergo ? charging it with the sale of fake securities, failure to pay taxes and abuse of authority, the regional administration's press service said last week.

Kuzbassenergo rejects all of the claims, and general director Sergei Mikhailov added that his company was actually the first to initiate a case over the promissory notes.

"A criminal case was brought ? one of the perpetrators was caught, a third of the promissory notes were returned ? there was no harm to Kuzbassenergo or the promissory note center," Mikhailov said.

The regional administration is unhappy that the utility continually raises tariffs for local consumers, the press service said.

Ministry Slams Drug

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) ? The Health Ministry has suspended pharmaceutical magnate Vladimir Bryntsalov's license to produce Russia's most popular heart medication ? hawthorn-berry tincture ? which is known for its low price and high alcohol content.

The tincture is sold in 100 milliliter vials and costs 6 to 10 rubles. It is the is the best selling medicine in the country outside Moscow, according to the Pharmexpert medical research center.

The company had its license suspended because it violated the recipe of the mixture and the technology for its production, said Deputy Health Minister Anton Katlinsky.

Pharmexpert says that hawthorn tincture accounts for more than 10 percent of the company's output. Tincture sales netted the company $6.6 million last year and $4.2 million in the first quarter of 2001.

Bryntsalov has chosen to ignore the ban. "This is not at all serious," said director company Viktor Kolomin.

Export Glitch Fixed?

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? The Finance Ministry said Friday that technical problems linked to precious metals exports had been sorted out, but it was not clear when physical exports, halted Aug. 25, could actually restart.

"The Assay Chamber and Customs are currently working with documents requested by exporters. ? But the procedure takes some time," said Leonid Tolpezhnikov, the head of the precious metals department at the ministry.

Precious metals exports have come to a standstill due to a delay by different government bodies in elaborating a mechanism of their control, imposed by a presidential decree that became effective from Aug. 25. The decree says exporters must present their metals to the Assay Chamber, part of the Finance Ministry, for inspection and obtain a certificate to be presented to customs .

A trading source said Friday that precious metals exports were still suspended. "One thing is certain ? nothing is being exported," the source said.

Tolpezhnikov and the State Customs Committee declined to say if any precious metals have crossed the border since Aug. 25.

Corning Invests

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Corning Inc., the world's largest fiber-optic cable maker, bought a quarter of a Russian factory for an undisclosed sum, TransTeleKom, the owner of the factory, said Friday.

"A deal on Corning buying a little more than 25 percent of shares in ZAO Transvok ? a Russian factory that produces fiber-optic cable and accessories ? has been completed successfully," TransTeleKom said.

"The controlling stake of the factory was kept by ZAO TransTeleKom Company, set up by Russia's Railways Ministry." Corning will help Transvok in selling its produce, the statement said.

'45M Mobile Phones'

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Russia should have 45 million to 48 million mobile phone users by 2010, up from more than five million now, Deputy Communications Minister Yury Pavlenko was quoted as saying Friday.

Interfax quoted Pavlenko, speaking in St. Petersburg at a round table for the 10th anniversary of cellphones in Russia, said the number of mobile phone users doubled over the last year and a half.

Rosneft's PSA Deal

MOSCOW (MT) ? State-controlled oil company Rosneft plans to sign an agreement with the Economic Development and Trade Ministry regarding its authority in production-sharing agreements by the end of September, Interfax reported company vice president Sergei Oganesyan as saying Friday.

The conditions of the draft agreement have been agreed with Zarubezhneft, which along with Rosneft has been appointed by the government to represent state interests in preparing PSAs for hydrocarbon deposits. The document needs to be approved by the Natural Resources and Energy ministries.