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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

UHM Dividend Static

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- United Heavy Machinery's shareholders on Wednesday approved a 0.012 ruble dividend per preferred share on its 2001 results, unchanged from the previous year, a company spokesman said.

UHM, which produces equipment for nuclear power stations as well as mining and drilling equipment, did not pay dividends on its ordinary shares.

UHM head Kaha Bendukidze said the company would increase its revenue to $1 billion over the next five years from $330 million in 2001.

Bendukidze added the company could postpone a planned issue of $30 million in convertible bonds given the lower than expected price of its Moscow-listed stock.

Pension Bill Passed

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The State Duma passed a bill in third reading Wednesday sharply widening the choice of investment instruments for the country's pensions industry, and paving the way for an injection of fresh funds into the capital market.

The new bill, which still needs approval from the upper chamber and signature by the president, allows pension funds to invest in local equities, treasuries and corporate bonds.

It also gives the funds the right from 2004 to buy into index investment funds which invest in overseas treasuries and equities.

Gas, Cargo Price Hikes

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Federal Energy Commission on Wednesday agreed to hike wholesale gas prices by 15 percent for industrial consumers from July 1 and 16 percent for the public from Aug. 1, Interfax reported.

But even with the increase, supplying gas to the domestic market will continue to be unprofitable for Gazprom, Interfax quoted the monopoly's spokeswoman, Yelena Karpel, as saying.

Karpel, who participated in the meeting, said losses would continue at 15 billion rubles, but this would be offset by 800 million rubles if gas transportation tariffs for independent producers were also increased 15 percent, Interfax reported.

The FEC said it would consider that issue within the next two weeks.

The FEC also approved a 6.8 percent increase in rail cargo tariffs, Prime-Tass reported.

EBRD in Kaliningrad

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has adopted a program aimed at aiding the development of Kaliningrad, EBRD President Jean Lemierre said Wednesday.

The program envisages opening an EBRD bank branch in Kaliningrad to finance small and medium-sized businesses and supporting several infrastructure and environment projects, he said.

The value of the program was not immediately clear.

Alrosa Loan Doubt

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Diamond monopoly Alrosa's expected agreement with France's Societe Generale bank for the organization of a $650 million syndicated loan is likely to fail, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

The funds were expected to be disbursed at a 7 percent annual interest rate, with Alrosa guaranteeing the loan with its export revenues. Alrosa was required to keep revenues from its uncut diamond sales to South Africa's diamond giant De Beers in accounts with a bank affiliated with Societe Generale.

But the government disapproved of the provision fearing the possible withdrawal of Alrosa's export revenues, the newspaper quoted government and company officials as saying.

Alrosa has only received a $150 million tranche under the scheme.

Diamonds to Belarus

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The Federation Council on Wednesday ratified a diamond trade deal with Belarus for 2001-05.

The deal envisages annual supplies of 100,000 carats of jewelry-grade uncut diamonds by diamond giant Alrosa and between 50,000 and 70,000 carats of industrial diamonds from Sakha reserves.

Belarus is not allowed to re-export the uncut diamonds supplied by Russia.

Nokia, MegaFon Deal

HELSINKI, Finland (Reuters) -- Leading mobile phone and networks equipment maker Nokia said Wednesday that it has signed a deal with MegaFon to expand the mobile phone operator's GSM network in central Russia.

No financial details of the deal were provided, and Nokia was not immediately available for comment.

Nokia said it had signed a two-year frame agreement to deliver and deploy a GSM network in central Russia.

Land Bill Passed

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The State Duma on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill allowing Russians to sell and lease land.

The third reading of the bill was backed by 258 deputies in the Duma, with 149 voting against and five abstaining.

The bill now has to be approved by the Federation Council and to be signed by President Vladimir Putin before it is formally published. It will become law six months after the official publication.

WTO Bills Stall

MOSCOW (MT) -- Several bills written to bring Russian legislation in line with the World Trade Organization's rules and regulations will not be heard by the State Duma as planned, Interfax quoted presidential aide Anton Danilov-Danilyan as saying Wednesday.

The legislation stalled because inconsistencies with existing legislation were found by the Justice Ministry, the Duma and legal experts from the presidential administration, he said.

He did not elaborate on the bills.

Plane Assistance

KAZAN, Tatarstan (Prime-Tass) -- The government should take steps to help domestic aircraft producers sell their products, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said.

"It is important to create such conditions that the output of the producers be bought," Kasyanov said at a meeting on the development of the domestic aviation industry late Tuesday.

Kasyanov also urged the companies to abandon all noncore spending, including the social spending they inherited from the Soviet economic models.

He said such spending should be the responsibility of local authorities.

Kasyanov Upbeat

KAZAN, Tatarstan (Prime-Tass) -- The economy has entered a phase of sustainable and incremental growth after a period of uncertainty and instability, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said Wednesday.

He urged the development of processing and hi-tech industries in Russia, Itar-Tass reported.

"The development of small- and medium-sized businesses is another major priority," he added.

For the Record

Gazprombank will place 200 million euros ($194 million) in Eurobonds by September, Interfax quoted bank head Yury Lvov as saying Wednesday. (MT)

Consumer prices will grow less than 1 percent in June after 1.7 percent inflation in May, Itar-Tass quoted Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin as saying Wednesday. (Reuters)

The forecast for the 2002 grain harvest will be maintained at 70 million to 73 million tons despite floods in the country's breadbasket region, Itar-Tass quoted Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev as saying Wednesday. (Reuters)