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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Oil Revenue Inquiry

MOSCOW (AP) -- Prosecutors said Friday that they would investigate the disappearance of billions of dollars in revenues from oil that Russian companies bought from Iraq and resold.

Between 1997 and 2000, Russian oil companies paid some $12 billion for more than 100 million tons of oil from Iraq under the international oil-for-food program, Vladimir Kolesnikov, an adviser to the prosecutor general, said Friday, Interfax reported. The earnings from selling that oil could have amounted to $15 billion, but he said not more than $300 million had been deposited in accounts.

"We will look into this money," Kolesnikov said.

Slavneft, Sudan Deal

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian-Belarussian oil firm Slavneft said Friday that on Jan. 15 it would sign a production-sharing agreement with the Sudanese government on developing an oil field in the African country.

Slavneft said in a statement it was ready to start exploration work on the ninth oil and gas block in central Sudan in February to March 2002 and invest up to $126 million in the project.

Phone Tariff Hike

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Anti-Monopoly Ministry has approved a 20 percent increase on domestic long-distance calls for budget-funded organizations, long-distance monopoly Rostelecom said Thursday.

The tariff hike is meant to bring rates more in line with tariffs paid by residential and private business customers. Tariffs for budget-funded organizations are on average 50 percent lower than for other phone users.

However, the tariff increase will have an insignificant effect on the operator's financial performance, analysts said.

"The tariff will provide Rostelecom with only $1 million annually in additional revenues, which is roughly 0.1 percent of the operator's total revenues," said Andrei Braginsky of Renaissance Capital.

Shares for Capital

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Moscow city government may receive stakes in state-owned companies in exchange for providing "capital city services," Interfax reported Friday.

Deputy Mayor Oleg Tolkachev said the city government wants shares in the Khimavtomatika metals-processing plant, the Svoboda perfume factory and a Moscow frozen-storage facility. The shares are estimated to be worth 700 million rubles ($23.3 million).

City Hall has prepared documents and passed them on to President Vladimir Putin to review, Tolkachev told reporters. He said that if Putin signs the documents, it will be the first time in three years the city has been paid for providing capital city services.

The 2001 federal budget includes 6 billion rubles earmarked for Moscow for providing these services, but none of that has yet been paid, Tolkachev said.

Aeroflot Traffic Rises

MOSCOW (MT) -- Flag carrier Aeroflot's passenger traffic rose 12 percent year on year to 5.7 million people in 2001, Prime-Tass reported deputy CEO Lev Koshlyakov as saying Friday.

Koshlyakov said that Aeroflot was on track to carry 6 million people in 2001 before the global decline in airline traffic in the last two months of 2001.

Plants Beat Target

MOSCOW (MT) -- Nuclear power plant generation increased 4.7 percent year on year to 134.9 billion kilowatt-hours in 2001 -- 3.2 percent above target, Prime-Tass reported the state nuclear power holding as saying Friday.

Nuclear power plants operated at 70.3 percent of their total capacity in 2001, up 1.2 percent year on year, Rosenergoatom said.

Gazprombank Issue

MOSCOW (MT) -- Gazprombank completed the placement of its 200 million euro ($178 million) Eurobond issue at the end of December, Prime-Tass reported the bank as saying Friday.

The bonds, which mature Dec. 22, 2003, were placed at nominal value. The annualized coupon yield stands at 9.75 percent. The coupon is paid annually.

The issue's lead manager was Deutsche Bank AG London.

Vimpelcom Bond

LONDON (Reuters) -- No. 2 mobile carrier Vimpelcom has mandated investment banks UBS Warburg and JPMorgan to offer a new dollar bond, traders and investors said Friday.

The banks declined to comment on the deal. One investor said it might be a $250 million three- to five-year bond.

Tatneft Mulls Bond

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- No. 5 oil major Tatneft said Friday it may issue $200 million worth of Eurobonds in 2002 to finance its new refining projects.

"The placement might take place in the second half of 2002," said a spokeswoman for Solid-Info, the company responsible for Tatneft's public relations.

She said the placement was likely to take place after Tatneft had redeemed $300 million of five-year Eurobonds that mature in October 2002.

The company said it would invest up to $1 billion to build a new refinery in the city of Nizhnekamsk that would be Russia's first to refine high-sulphur crudes.

LUKoil Eyes Iran

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 1 oil major LUKoil is ready to begin participating in Iranian oil projects, Iranian news agency IRNA reported the company's managing director as saying Saturday.

Ali Akbarov also told Iran's ambassador to Russia, Gholamreza Shafe'i, that his company supports OPEC policies for a reduction in oil production to stabilize global prices. He said Russian oil companies have since Jan. 1 been actively pursuing output cuts.

Shafe'i said Iran is ready to expand technical and economic cooperation with Russia, especially in the oil and gas sector.

Kristall in Estonia

MOSCOW (MT) -- Top alcohol company Kristall said it is looking to boost sales in the Baltics by 500 percent after it begins vodka production at Onistar, Estonia's largest wine-making facility, Interfax reported Sunday.

Production is scheduled to begin Friday at a preliminary rate of 8,000 decaliters per month. The plant will make the company's more popular brands -- including Posolskakya, Staraya Moskva, Zolotoye Koltso and Gzhelka -- under license, Kristall said in a press release.

Kristall is 51 percent state owned. The company boosted production 19 percent year on year in 2001 to 10.4 million decaliters of alcohol.

For the Record

Turkmenistan's natural gas exports rose 11 percent year on year to 37.2 billion cubic meters in 2001, a government official said Friday. In line with this year's export contracts, the Central Asian country was due to ship 40 bcm of natural gas to Ukraine, another 10 bcm to Russia and 6.5 bcm to Iran, the official said. (Reuters)

The first lot for Alaskan pollock and herring fishing rights was sold for 6.9 million rubles ($226,000) at a European-Asian Exchange quota auction -- far above the starting price of 1.85 million rubles, Interfax reported Friday. (MT)

Consumer prices rose 0.6 percent between Jan. 1 and 8 compared with a gain of 1.6 percent in the whole of December, the State Statistics Committee said Friday. (Reuters)