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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Big Trade Balance Rise

MOSCOW (MT) -- The foreign trade surplus in August as calculated by balance of payments grew 23.1 percent, or $855 million, month on month to $4.549 billion, the highest figure since January 2001, Interfax reported the Central Bank as saying Friday.

The trade surplus in the first eight months of 2002 fell 15.85 percent, or $5.481 billion, year on year to $29.098 billion.

Exports in the first eight months fell 2.66 percent to $66.699 billion, while imports rose 10.78 percent to $37.601 billion.

Foreign trade turnover grew 1.79 percent year on year to $104.3 billion in the first eight months of 2002.

New Forex Law

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The Central Bank will be authorized to regulate the level of hard currency export revenues sales from zero to 30 percent according to the new bill controlling the foreign exchange market, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin said Friday.

The Central Bank, however, will have the right to use this authority only in emergency cases, such as a fall in oil prices to $12 per barrel, said Kudrin, who is also finance minister.

"In any case, the level of 30 percent is the ceiling," he said.

The new currency bill was submitted to the government Thursday and is expected to be approved by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov within a week.

Dividend Law OK'd

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The State Duma on Friday approved in three readings a bill that regulates the interim dividend payments of joint stock companies.

The bill says companies can pay interim dividends for the first quarter, the first half of the year and nine months. The decision on paying interim dividends for a certain period can be made within three months after the end of that period.

The amount of dividend payouts should be approved by the annual general meeting and cannot exceed the amount suggested by the board.

The bill now must be approved in a single reading by the Federation Council and signed by President Vladimir Putin.

LUKoil Expansion

CHEBOKSARY, Central Russia (Prime-Tass) -- No. 1 oil company LUKoil has bought seven gas stations in the Chuvashia republic from Nizhny Novgorod-based oil product trader Volga Petroleum, LUKoil-Chuvashia, the company's trading subsidiary in the republic, said Friday.

The value of the deal was not disclosed.

The purchase will allow LUKoil-Chuvashia, which has 11 gas stations in the republic, to increase its fuel sales in the region from 1,100 tons per month to 2,500 tons and control 15 percent of the republic's oil product market, the company said.

New East-West Head

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Yury Ponomaryov, former head of state-owned Vneshtorgbank, has been appointed executive board chairman of Luxembourg-based East-West United Bank, Ponomaryov said Friday.

East-West United Bank previously was a foreign-based subsidiary of the Central Bank but is now controlled by VTB.

Ponomaryov said the major prospect for East-West United Bank's development is in mediation services for investors. "The work in this area is very interesting and is a professional challenge for me," he said.

IFC: Leasing to Grow

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The leasing services market is expected to rise 35 percent year on year to $2.3 billion in 2002, the International Finance Corporation said in a report released Friday.

Leasing, however, only accounts for only 3 percent of gross fixed investment, although it has doubled from 1.5 percent in 1999, said the IFC, the private financing arm of the World Bank.

The study also shows that the types of equipment being leased are changing from vehicles and road construction equipment to manufacturing machinery.

The IFC said small businesses could become a major driver of economic growth, with 80 percent of leasing companies working with small and medium-sized enterprises.

New Defense Telecom

MOSCOW (MT) -- Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has signed a government order to create state-run Voyentelecom, which will focus on providing telecommunications services for the Defense Ministry.

The operator will later begin offering commercial services, the Defense Ministry said Friday.

Voyentelecom is to be registered and licensed early next year, ministry spokesman Yury Kabanov said.

Mercedes Sales Plunge

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- DaimlerChrysler AG's Mercedes-Benz sales fell 33.4 percent year on year through official dealerships to 1,710 cars in the first nine months of 2002, a DaimlerChrysler official said Friday.

DaimlerChrysler blamed the sales decrease on dealership reorganization and the introduction of a new sales system.

New Aeroflot Hub

FRANKFURT-ON-MAIN, Germany (Prime-Tass) -- Flagship carrier Aeroflot is to create a European cargo hub in Hahn, Germany, Itar-Tass reported an Aeroflot official as saying Friday.

Aeroflot will increase its number of Hahn-based leased DC-10 cargo planes from two to four, the official said.

53% Say Economy Bad

MOSCOW (MT) -- Fifty-three percent of Russians believe the economy is deteriorating, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation, Interfax reported Saturday.

Only 3 percent considered it good, and 35 percent found it satisfactory.

Conoco Man to LUKoil

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- LUKoil said Friday it had appointed a former U.S. ConocoPhillips executive as its new director for strategic planning.

The appointment follows efforts in the Russian oil industry to move toward Western corporate governance standards.

LUKoil, tagged as a laggard, has promised to boost transparency and catch up with domestic peers.

LUKoil said its new director, Richard Karplus, was ConocoPhillips's vice president for business development strategy in Russia.

For the Record

Standard & Poor's has assigned a ruA+ Russian national-scale rating to Magnitogorsk Metals Combine, Interfax reported Friday. (MT)

The bulk cargo turnover of the country's 43 major seaports rose 13 percent year on year to 74.126 million tons in the first nine months of 2002, the Transport Ministry said Friday. (Prime-Tass)

Some 65 percent of fishing industry ships are in need of replacement, Itar-Tass reported the deputy chairman of the State Fisheries Committee as saying Thursday. (Prime-Tass)

The Kazan Helicopter Plant, or KVZ, will ship two Mi-172 transport helicopters to Vietnam's Southern Service Flight Co. by the end of the month, Itar-Tass reported a spokesman for KVZ as saying Friday. (Prime-Tass)