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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Mosenergo Boss Probe?

MOSCOW (Interfax) -- A fraud case against Mosenergo general director Arkady Yevstafyev has been opened, Interfax reported a Moscow law enforcement official as saying Friday.

Interfax said the case was not related to Yevstafyev's work at the local power company, but quoted the unnamed official as saying it concerns "his previous commercial activities."

It was unclear whether the case is related to the scandal surrounding Yevstafyev and Sergei Lisovsky, a businessman, who were detained carrying a box with $500,000 in cash out of the White House ahead of the 1996 presidential elections.

Neither Mosenergo or its parent company, Unified Energy Systems, could be reached for comment. However, RosBusinessConsulting, a business information service, quoted a UES spokesman as saying "attempts to file a criminal case against [Yevstayev] were provoked by those who are against the company's restructuring."

Soccer Slows Market

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Stocks followed world markets to close lower Friday in thin trade, with bellwether power utility Unified Energy Systems down as investors remained uneasy with the group's management share-option plan.

The RTS index closed 1.39 percent lower at 389.74 on turnover of just $9.4 million. The Reuters index of the more liquid MICEX exchange traded 1.34 percent lower at 1,653.97.

"Nothing much was happening here as London was watching soccer. We were too and the market suffered from that," Alex Golubyk of Troika Dialog said.

The day's most actively traded stock was power utility UES, set to offer its management a stock-option program designed to push it toward government-mandated sector reform.

Traders said mild selling was seen both from locals and foreigners, with some investors cautious that the option could come in too far below the market price. UES closed down 2.88 percent at $0.1315.

Ruble Steady

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The ruble, which fell the previous two sessions, was steady Friday as the Central Bank sold dollars to prop up the national currency two days after cutting key deposit rates, dealers said.

The Central Bank, which holds a tight grip on the local foreign currency exchange market, intervened by selling dollars at 31.41 rubles after allowing the rate to drop by more than 6 kopeks over the past two sessions, dealers said.

"We have returned to the scheme where the Central Bank tightly controls the market," said one dealer.

The Central Bank is targeting an average ruble rate of 31.50 against the dollar this year in an attempt to keep its real appreciation in check to help local producers stay competitive with foreign goods.

$150M Baltic Terminal

ST. PETERSBURG (Prime-Tass) -- LUKoil plans to open a $150 million methanol, ammonia and heavy oil products terminal at the Baltic Sea port of Vysotsk in September 2003, LUKoil president Vagit Alekperov told a press conference Friday.

He said the construction of the terminal, which will be able to ship up to 10 million tons of chemicals a year, is due to begin this month.

LUKoil plans to use the terminal to export chemicals, mainly to the United States.

The company will transport the chemicals to the terminal by rail and then ship them in its own ice-class tankers.

When completed, the terminal will save LUKoil about $5 to $7 per ton in export transportation costs, compared with the current route via ports of the Baltic republics.

Bank Changes Mulled

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The Central Bank may consider simplifying the rules regulating foreign investment in banks, first deputy head Andrei Kozlov said Friday.

He said small- and mid-sized banks have started to express interest in attracting foreign investment but did not elaborate.

At present, foreigners may purchase stakes of up to 10 percent in banks without asking permission from the Central Bank.

There were 26 credit organizations with 100 percent foreign capital registered in Russia as of May 1. There were also 10 credit organizations with more than 50 percent foreign capital.

A total of 129 credit organizations with foreign capital participation were registered in Russia as of May 1.

New Tupolev Coming

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The mass production of a new Russian-Ukrainian short-haul passenger jet is expected to come onstream within 18 months, Igor Kalygin, chief designer of the project, called the Tupolev 334, told Itar-Tass on Friday.

The model was developed jointly by Russia and Ukraine and is expected to be produced at the Kiev-based Aviant plant, as well as at an unspecified plant in Russia.

The 100-seat Tupolev 334 is expected to meet the Chapter 3 noise and pollution requirements spelled out in the appendix of the International Civil Aviation Convention, Kalygin said.

These tougher requirements became effective in April 2002, which resulted in the EU banning most Russian jets from its air space as they failed to meet the new standards. Only 5 percent to 7 percent of Russia's 6,540 planes meet the new requirements.

One Tupolev 334 is being tested for certification, which is expected to be approved by the end of 2003, he said.

No SUAL Dividend

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Shareholders of aluminum giant SUAL Holding decided at the company's annual general meeting not to pay dividends for 2001, the company said in a press release Friday.

Instead, shareholders decided to allocate all the company's net profits to upgrading the company's facilities.

SUAL's net profit fell by 62.6 percent on the year to 349.3 million rubles ($11.18 million), as calculated under Russian accounting standards.

Gazprom Oil Boost

MOSCOW (MT) – Gazprom plans to boost oil production by 8 million tons per year before 2005, Vladimir Rezunenko, a company director, was quoted by Interfax as saying Saturday.

He said this figure would be doubled by 2015 and an additional 40 percent rise in production is planned by 2020.

Yamburggazodobycha, a Gazprom subsidiary, plans to develop the Tazovsky fields for industrial production by the end of the year, said Yamburggazodobycha general director Oleg Andreyev.