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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Aliyev to Talk Caspian

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Azeri leader Heidar Aliyev arrived in Moscow on Thursday for talks that will touch on Caspian Sea oil exploration and the protracted dispute around the breakaway Azeri region of Nagorny Karabakh.

The status of a key Russian missile-tracking station in Azerbaijan, a major irritant in bilateral relations, is also expected to be discussed.

The 78-year-old Azeri leader was due to meet President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

Russia's chief negotiator on dividing the oil rich Caspian Sea said Thursday that a meeting of officials had made progress this week and a final deal could be struck in April.

Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny said a meeting of a working group on the Caspian, which includes him and his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran, had led to the hope that a deal could be finalized.

"I think that our next meeting in Ashgabat [due in April] could become the final one before a meeting of the leaders of the five Caspian Sea states," he was quoted by news agencies as saying of the summit at which a deal will be signed.

RTS Drops 4.5%

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian shares took a further slide Thursday, with the key RTS index losing more than 4 percent, but traders called it a technical correction, saying the market was regrouping before another upsurge.

"We continue to see some client buying, scaling themselves in," said Brunswick UBS Warburg's Peter Kizenko. "This market is clearly overstretched and finally snapped for today, but this is clearly purely technical."

The benchmark RTS index sank 4.45 percent to 282.79 on turnover of $29.04 million.

The Reuters Russian Composite index fell 4.17 percent to 1,933.53, and the Reuters index of the ruble-traded MICEX exchange was down 4.26 percent at 1,360.57 on turnover of 4.59 billion rubles ($150 million).

Tatneft was the biggest loser among the blue chips, falling 10.7 percent to $0.5150 on $2.72 million in turnover.

Transneft, CPC Link

MOSCOW (MT) -- State-owned oil pipeline monopoly Transneft plans to construct a link between its pipeline system and the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, Prime-Tass reported a Transneft source as saying Thursday.

Transneft will finance the construction of the link, which will allow it to move more oil through the CPC, the source said.

The CPC is planned to transport 28 million tons of oil per year from the giant Tengiz oil field in Western Kazakhstan to the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

Vimpelcom Loan Plans

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The regional arm of No. 2 cellular operator Vimpelcom is considering a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in order to finance rollout plans for networks outside Moscow, its chairman said Thursday.

"Vimpelcom is working on a Eurobond. Another way is the EBRD and another way is direct investment," Alexei Mishchenko, general director of regional unit Vimpelcom-R, told a news conference. He said a decision on how to raise money was expected by March.

Mishchenko said Vimpelcom-R's spending plans for 2002 envisaged $201 million in cash and vendor credits.

Sidanko Gets $100M

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Oil company Sidanko, in which international oil major BP holds 10 percent, said Thursday it had received $100 million in a syndicated loan from Western banks.

The credit was provided for 18 months and arranged by French Banks Societe Generale and Natexis Banque Populaire, Sidanko said in a statement.

The company will use its revenues from crude exports as collateral, while BP will buy the crude.

Jan. CPI Seen at 2.3%

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Consumer price inflation will rise 2.3 percent month on month in January compared with 1.6 percent in December, but inflation will slow in the spring, a Finance Ministry official said Thursday.

"January inflation will be 2.3 percent. Growth rates will go down, and in the spring, some time in March or April, we shall have 1 percent," said First Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Ulyukayev.

6.5% Pension Boost

MOSCOW (MT) -- Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has signed a government ruling approving the increase of state pensions for all categories of pensioners by 6.5 percent, Prime-Tass reported the government's press service as saying Thursday.

The ruling was signed following President Vladimir Putin's meeting with Pension Fund head Mikhail Zurabov.

During the meeting, Putin recommended that the government increase pensions from Feb. 1 because of the recent price increases for some essentials, including medicine.

Medicine prices jumped in January following the introduction of a 10 percent value-added tax, which had not been levied in the past.

Bond Ceiling Set

MOSCOW (MT) -- The government has set the ceiling for the issuing of state domestic bonds at 165 billion rubles ($5.4 billion), Prime-Tass reported Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin as saying Thursday.

Single Currency

MOSCOW (MT) -- The program to introduce a single currency for the Russia-Belarus union will be adopted in February at a meeting of the union's Supreme Council, Interfax reported Belarus National Bank head Pyotr Prokopovich as saying Thursday.

The single-currency program was postponed in December.

The Russian and Belarussian prime ministers will work out the final issues at a meeting in Moscow to be held in the next few days, Prokopovich said at a news conference Wednesday.

For the Record

Gazprombank's pretax profit rose 90 percent year on year to 1.1 billion rubles ($36 million) in 2001, Prime-Tass reported the bank as saying Thursday. (MT)

Russian-Belarussian oil producer Slavneft said Thursday that its crude output rose 21.6 percent to 14.93 million metric tons in 2001, the Dow Jones news agency reported. (MT)

Russia's foreign currency and gold reserves slipped to $36.5 billion in the week to Jan. 18 after being at $36.7 billion the previous week, the Central Bank said Thursday. (Reuters)

Banks' balances on their correspondent accounts at the Central Bank fell to 57.01 billion rubles ($1.9 billion) on Thursday from 63.10 billion rubles on Wednesday, the bank said. (Reuters)