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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

CB Appointments

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The State Duma confirmed Central Bank deputy chairmen Oleg Vyugin and Andrei Kozlov, two state finance veterans, to the board of the Central Bank on Wednesday.

Both were named deputy heads of the Central Bank last week by new chief Sergei Ignatyev, also a former Finance Ministry bureaucrat whose liberal views have made his appointment popular with investors.

Vyugin is a former deputy finance minister who was plucked from his last job as an economist at Troika Dialog brokerage, and Kozlov, who ran a private financial consultancy, held the No. 2 post at the Central Bank until 1999 and helped found the domestic T-bill market.

The Duma must confirm them as board members, however, for their appointments to take effect.

Russia Leads in M&A

MOSCOW (MT) -- Russia was the leader in mergers and acquisitions among seven Central and Eastern European countries in 2001, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers' report issued Wednesday.

The estimated total market value of the mergers and acquisitions for the seven countries surveyed -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Russia -- was approximately $16 billion, while Russia led the region with 237 deals worth some $6 billion, or 28 percent of all transactions. As a percentage of Russian gross domestic product, however, it is still less than 1 percent, PwC reported.

The average volume of deals in Russia was $52 million, which is above average in the region, with eight deals exceeding $100 million.

PwC named Alfa Group, MDM-Group, Siberian Aluminum, LUKoil, Yukos and Wimm-Bill-Dann to be most active on the M&A market in Russia in 2001.

Gazprom Plans Boost

MOSCOW (AP) -- Natural gas giant Gazprom hopes to dramatically boost exports to Western and Central Europe by 2008, company chairman Alexei Miller said in an interview published Wednesday.

Miller said Gazprom plans to boost exports to countries outside the former Soviet Union this year to 130 billion cubic meters, up from 127 billion cubic meters last year.

Speaking to the daily Gazeta newspaper, Miller said Gazprom plans to double gas exports to Western and Central Europe to between 175 billion and 205 billion cubic meters per year by 2008.

Russia 'On Course'

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia is on course to meet its economic targets for this year and beyond, officials told a banking conference Wednesday.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Russia would achieve an inflation target of 12 percent to 14 percent this year, and an even lower target of 10 percent to 12 percent next year, in line with budget projections, Interfax reported.

Oil Deal Close

PARIS (Reuters) -- French oil giant TotalFinaElf is close to sealing a Russian oil and gas field development deal, joining its peers rushing to boost their presence here.

The French major is set to sign a deal with British independent Anglo-Siberian Oil to develop the giant Vankor field, an industry source said Wednesday.

TotalFinaElf, Europe's largest refiner and buyer of Russian crude oil, has this year sought a bigger foothold in the world's second-largest oil-exporting country.

Import, Salt Concerns

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The government is concerned about the growth of imports outstripping the growth of the domestic economy, Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said following a meeting of the government commission for the consumer market.

He said the commission decided to set up a task force to control the quality of imported goods.

The commission also decided to encourage domestic salt producers to make more iodine-fortified salt, due to widespread thyroid gland dysfunction among Russians.

Wage Bill Passed

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The Federation Council approved a bill Wednesday raising the minimum monthly wage to 450 rubles from the current 300 rubles starting May 1.

The minimum wage figure is used as an indicator for calculating wages of state employees. The wage hike is stipulated by the 2002 budget. The State Duma approved the bill last Friday.

The bill has to be signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.

RTS Rises

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The benchmark RTS index rose 1.03 percent to 385.02 on turnover of $19.57 million. The Reuters index of the ruble-denominated MICEX closed up 0.90 percent at 1,711.17 on turnover of 3.97 billion rubles.

Ruble Slips

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The ruble fell in early official trade after two days of gains to a weighted average for today settlement of 31.1579 to the dollar from 31.1498 on Tuesday. Based on the results of trade, the central bank set its official next day ruble/dollar rate at 31.1579.

For the Record

The city of Moscow placed its domestic 22 series bonds worth 1 billion rubles ($32 million) at an average yield of 17.23 percent Wednesday, City Hall said in a statement. (Prime-Tass)

U.S. investment bank J.P. Morgan announced Wednesday it has been appointed successor depositary for the American Depositary Receipts programs of eight telecom operators under the control of Svyazinvest, Interfax reported. (MT)