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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Bush on Bird Ban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday waded into a poultry trade dispute between the United States and Russia, saying the spat needed to be resolved but predicting it would not sour bilateral relations.

During a White House news conference, Bush said: "We got to get this chicken issue resolved and get those chickens moving from the United States into the Russian market.

"We laugh, but nevertheless it is a problem. We must honor agreements, but I believe we're going to have great relations with Russia," he said.

Kyrgyzstan Bird Ban

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (Reuters) -- Kyrgyzstan has suspended imports of U.S. poultry for an indefinite period, following similar decisions taken by Russia and Ukraine, an Agriculture Ministry official said Thursday.

"All imports of U.S. poultry have been suspended starting March 13 until the situation becomes clear," said Meken Isakov, the ministry's chief veterinary inspector.

Isakov said Kyrgyzstan does not buy poultry directly from the United States, and the 408 tons of the meat imported in the last six months had come via Russia.

Moldova Bird Ban

CHISINAU, Moldova (Reuters) -- Moldova said Thursday it would soon ban imports of U.S. poultry, mirroring measures taken by Russia and Ukraine.

Officials said Russia had warned them over the safety of chicken imported from the United States and had decided to take the same measures, but they added that the move had nothing to do with a growing trade spat between Moscow and Washington.

"The draft order for the ban on imports of poultry from the United States is lying on the desk at the ministry and will be signed at any minute," said Vladimir Moroshan, chief specialist at the department of veterinary medicine.

Romania on Bird Ban

BUCHAREST, Romania (Reuters) -- The Romanian Agriculture Ministry has advised meat processors to take advantage of Moscow's ban on U.S. poultry imports to try to sell a 60,000-ton surplus to Russia, officials said Thursday.

"It's a valuable opportunity if they [meat processors] want momentum as the Russian ban on U.S. poultry has opened a big niche," Agriculture Ministry official Mihai Lungu said. Russia has said its ban on U.S. poultry, which began last week, was likely to stay in effect for at least 60 days.

Gref: No Tax Change

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The government will not alter the 13 percent flat income tax, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said Thursday.

"There will be no changes, neither this year, nor in the next few years," he told reporters.

Reserves Rise $300M

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Central Bank said Thursday that gold and hard currency reserves rose $300 million to $37 billion in the week to March 8.

Guta Buys Candy

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- Structures affiliated with Guta Bank have bought a 28 percent stake in leading confectioner Red October from three Western investment funds, sources close to one of the funds said Wednesday.

Based on the current market value of the shares, the Templeton, Invesco and Pioneer First funds sold the stake for $22 million, analysts said. Guta declined to comment on motives for the acquisition.

Pyatyorochka's Plans

MOSCOW (MT) -- St. Petersburg retail chain Pyatyorochka is planning to act as the main investor in a $96 million Moscow City Hall-backed deal for the creation of an 80-outlet discount chain in the capital.

The cooperation agreement between Pyatyorochka and the Socially Oriented Retail Trade Network, or SORTS, announced Wednesday, is to be signed at the end of March, said Georgy Levashov, deputy chairman of SORTS's supervisory board.

The 80 discount stores will operate under the SORTS and SORTS-Pyatyorochka logos. At present Pyatyorochka has 20 stores in Moscow.

Pyatyorochka spokesman Sergei Moskvin declined to comment on the investment.

Hope for Krinitsa Deal

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Belarussian government presented Baltika with a draft agreement Thursday that may push ahead a stalled deal to give the top Russian brewer a 50 percent plus one share in the Krinitsa brewery, Baltika said Thursday in a press release.

Under an initial agreement, the Belarussian government, which owns 80 percent of Krinitsa, was to have transferred the stake to Baltika in December.

Baltika began renovation of the plant in the summer and invested $10 million in new equipment. But the Belarussian government failed to turn over the stake in time, and Baltika filed a suit against Krinitsa in an attempt to retrieve its investment.

Baltika expects to reply to the new proposal within two weeks, the company said.

Third-Party Insurance

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- The State Duma on Wednesday passed a law in the second reading that would make third-party car insurance mandatory starting July 1, 2003.

The insurance tariff has yet to be agreed, but Duma deputies and insurers say it will be about $50 per year. The maximum payout in the event of injury to a third party will be 240,000 rubles ($7,710), while maximum payout for property damage will be 160,000 rubles.

Insurance companies will be responsible for compensation and are to create a noncommercial industry association for this purpose.

Foreign Ownership

MOSCOW (MT) -- Aviation giants Boeing and United Technologies would pour more money into Russian projects if the 1999 law on foreign ownership in companies is lifted from 25 percent to 50 percent, U.S. Deputy Commerce Security Joseph Bogosian said Thursday.

"I hope that these things will soon change," he said, adding that U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans will discuss the issue with Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref in Washington in April, prior to U.S.-Russia presidential summit in May.

Boeing and other companies are awaiting the results of an Aeroflot tender to purchase new aircraft.

"In view of the good relations between Boeing and Aeroflot, we think that the U.S. company is able to provide good quality and a good deal for the Russian side," Bogosian said, declining to predict results of the tender.

UES 9-Month Results

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Power giant Unified Energy Systems on Thursday posted sharply higher nine-month profits to international accounting standards, which analysts said were near expectations and unlikely to cause stock volatility.

UES said net profit soared to 28.5 billion rubles ($919 million) in the nine-month period to Sept. 30 from 2.6 million rubles the year before. Operating profit in the same period rose to 3.2 billion rubles from a loss of 5.8 billion the year before.

UES shares closed up 3.1 percent at $0.1665 on Thursday.

RTS Hits 4-Year High

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian shares rose to fresh four-year highs Thursday, led by the oil majors and key utilities, as a global equity rebound lifted investor confidence, traders said.

The benchmark RTS index closed 2.93 percent higher at 332.240 on relatively low turnover of $17.8 million. It was last higher on March 27, 1998.

The broader Reuters Russian Composite ended up 3.10 percent at 2,113.43, while the Reuters index of the ruble-based Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange, dominated by local investors, climbed 3.10 percent to 1,527.79 on trade of 3.6 billion rubles ($115 million).

The liquid oil stocks were the best performers, with No. 6 producer Sibneft rallying to close 10.34 percent higher at $1.60. Top producer LUKoil ended 1.39 percent higher at $13.150.

$50M MTS Eurobonds

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 1 cellular operator Mobile TeleSystems announced Thursday it is planning to place $50 million in Eurobonds on the Luxembourg Exchange on March 20, in addition to $250 million in Eurobonds it placed in December 2001.

The Eurobonds are to be placed through MTS' daughter company, Mobile TeleSystems Finance SA.