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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Output Growth Slows

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Industrial output growth slowed to 2.2 percent year on year and declined by 7.5 percent month on month, the deputy head of the State Statistics Committee, Alexander Surinov, told a news conference Monday.

The committee reported earlier that output grew 2.6 percent month on month in December.

Industrial output normally declines in January, when there are fewer working days due to New Year's and Orthodox Christmas holidays.

Russia's industrial output grew 4.9 percent in 2001 and 8 percent in 2000.

Wage Arrears Grow

MOSCOW (MT) -- Wage arrears rose 9.6 percent month on month in January to 32.83 billion rubles ($1.06 billion) as of Feb. 1, Prime-Tass reported the State Statistics Committee as saying Monday.

Wage arrears from the federal and regional budgets accounted for 12.3 percent of total wage arrears, rising 10.8 percent month on month in January to 4.03 billion rubles. Private companies' wage arrears rose 9.5 percent to 28.80 billion rubles, the committee said.

Putin: Pay Those Wages

MOSCOW (MT) -- The government should do more to pay wages and salaries, Prime-Tass reported President Vladimir Putin as saying Monday.

"It is not enough to just pay attention. Balanced, persistent, and continuous work, including at the regional level, is needed," he told a Cabinet meeting.

Putin also said that Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is expected to visit the Ulyanovsk region Tuesday to study the payment of wages and pensions.

Many regions have reported problems with the payment of state wages following the government's decision to increase them by about 60 percent in December 2001.

Fifteen of the 89 regions failed to pay higher wages in January, according to the Finance Ministry. As of Feb. 1, wage arrears in the regions stood at 3 billion rubles, having risen by 1.5 billion rubles in January. The ministry plans to allocate 3.5 billion rubles in February to help the regions clear wage arrears to the public sector.

$300M LUKoil Credit

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 1 oil major LUKoil has attracted a $300 million credit from foreign syndicates including ING Bank NV and Raiffeisen Zentralbank Osterreich AG, Interfax reported ING Bank as saying Monday.

The credit is being granted for 4 1/2 years and is guaranteed by oil-export revenue, the bank said in a press release. Oil exports are carried out through the LUKoil Petroleum Ltd. trading company.

A number of other banks have been invited to participate in the syndicated credit, the press release said.

Currency Law Change?

MOSCOW (MT) -- Draft amendments have been submitted to the State Duma that would allow the government to require exporters to sell 100 percent of their hard currency proceeds, Interfax reported Monday.

The amendments to the law on currency regulation and currency control would raise mandatory sales from 50 percent to 75 percent and as high as 100 percent in "extreme situations."

The Duma will likely be recommended to reject the draft, Interfax reported unnamed sources as saying.

Yamal Partners Wanted

MOSCOW (MT) -- Gazprom and other companies developing gas fields on the Yamal peninsula plan to enlarge their consortium, Itar-Tass reported the governor of the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district as saying Monday.

Gazprom is unable to develop the fields alone, said Governor Yury Neyelov, adding that oil majors LUKoil and Sibneft are ready to join the consortium. He said the local administration plans to provide assistance to companies engaged in the development projects.

OPEC Delegation

LONDON (Reuters) -- OPEC will send a high-level delegation to Russia in early March to lobby the No. 2 oil exporter to prolong a curb on its exports, an OPEC official said Monday.

OPEC Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez and President Rilwanu Lukman plan to meet Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov from March 3-5, he said.

"We are trying to win the support of Russian oil companies for an extension to the cuts beyond the first quarter," said the OPEC official.

43% of Delta for Sale

MOSCOW (MT) -- St. Petersburg's North-West GSM said Friday it was selling its 43.1 percent stake in Russia's oldest mobile provider, St. Petersburg-based Delta Telecom.

North-West's board of directors on Friday decided to sell the stake in Delta Telecom to the offshore TELCO Overseas Ltd. for $2.9 million.

United States-based MCT Corp. owns 31.9 percent of Delta, while St. Petersburg's Telecominvest has 25 percent.

St. Pete Rail Plan

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Railways Ministry and St. Petersburg city government are to finalize a schedule for financing the 5.8 billion ruble ($190 million) Ladoga railway station, Prime-Tass reported Oktyabrskaya Railroads as saying Monday.

Of the project's total worth, the station compound will cost about 1.79 billion rubles, of which St. Petersburg is expected to contribute 800 million rubles, Oktyabrskaya said in a statement.

Help for Tourists

MOSCOW (MT) -- City Hall has drawn up a plan to prevent foreign tourists from getting lost in Moscow by putting up signs in a foreign language, Interfax reported the head of the city's tourism committee as saying Monday.

The program will be implemented this year, Grigory Antyufeyev said. Among other measures, streets, metro stations and other public places will be fitted with signs in a foreign language. The language for the signs has yet to be chosen, he said.

A tender will be held for the project, Antyufeyev said.

Binge Settlement

MOSCOW (MT) -- A French court ruled Monday that an electrician's death in a drinking binge with Russian colleagues ought to be considered a workplace accident, Agence France Presse reported the victim's widow's lawyer as saying.

The 44-year-old Frenchman died of alcohol poisoning in 1999 while drinking vodka on a building site in Nalchik.

On Monday, the court ruled that the dead man had been obliged by his job to attend the party and thus was not solely to blame for his subsequent inebriation, said the lawyer, Gerard Welzer.

For the Record

No. 2 steel smelter Severstal plans to double its cold-rolled steel sheet supplies to Italian carmaker Fiat this year to 20,000 tons, Prime-Tass reported Severstal as saying Monday. (MT)

The ruble was stable in the interbank market Monday with no trade carried out in the unified session as U.S. markets were closed for Presidents' Day. The official rate for tomorrow settlement was unchanged at 30.8206. (Reuters)

The Sovkomflot shipping company loaded its first tanker with Kazakh crude delivered via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, Prime-Tass reported Sovkomflot and U.S. ChevronTexaco Corp. as saying Monday. (MT)

The city government owns $150 billion in land and buildings not used as housing, First Deputy Mayor Oleg Tolkachev told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper in an article published Monday. (MT)