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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Rosneft in Caspian

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The government said Monday it has granted state-owned oil company Rosneft the right to develop the Kurmangazy oil field jointly with Kazakhstan.

The government said in a statement on its web site that Rosneft would become the operator of the stake in Kurmangazy, or 50 percent of the field, but might cede 25 percent to state-owned Zarubezhneft in the future.

Analysts say Kurmangazy may yield as much in oil as Kazakhstan's Kashagan, which recently became the world's biggest oil find over the last 30 years after its operator, Italy's Agip, confirmed its huge reserves in June.

Agip said that Kashagan holds between 7 billion and 9 billion barrels of crude in proven reserves and up to 38 billion barrels in probable reserves.

Kazakhstan plans to keep 25 percent in Kurmangazy and offer 25 percent to a foreign partner to help explore it.

LUKoil in Caspian

MOSCOW (AP) -- LUKoil said Monday that the government has awarded it the rights to develop Russia's half of the Khvalynskoye field in the northern Caspian.

Kazakhstan's state-owned oil and gas company Kazmunaigaz will own the other half of the field.

Khvalynskoye was the first commercial discovery in what Russia considers its sector of the Caspian. The size of its reserves is unclear.

Delegations from the five Caspian states -- Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan -- met Monday in Tehran to discuss their dispute over how to divide up the sea.

Kremlin Denial

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Amendments to the law on subsoil resources prepared by a Kremlin commission do not envision the nationalization of oil, gas and other energy deposits, Itar-Tass reported deputy head of the Kremlin administration Dmitry Kozak as saying Monday.

Kozak said the amendments would provide additional guarantees for owners of oil and gas deposits.

Vedomosti last week said the Kremlin administration had prepared a draft bill under which the government would take control of oil and gas reserves and output.

S&P Upgrades Moscow

LONDON (Reuters) -- Ratings agency Standard & Poor's said Monday it had increased its ratings on Moscow's long-term foreign currency debt to BB- from B+ and moved its outlook to stable from positive.

The move follows S&P's upgrade of Russia on Friday and its upgrade of St. Petersburg earlier Monday.

"The further advancement of reforms at the national level continues to positively influence the economic and financial situation in Moscow," the agency said. "Continued economic growth and relatively prudent debt and budgetary management should enable Moscow to sustain stable finances."

$10M EBRD Loan

MOSCOW (MT) -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has extended a $10 million credit line to Vneshtorgbank for the agricultural sector, the bank said Monday.

The money will be used to provide working capital financing, particularly in the southern grain belt, the EBRD said in a statement.

The EBRD said it is considering boosting credit to $100 million for the current agricultural season.


MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- No. 1 cellular company Mobile TeleSystems has decided against buying Samara-based operator SMARTS, Vedomosti reported Monday.

MTS had been viewed as the likeliest buyer of SMARTS, which has major stakes in seven cellular operators in the Volga Federal District. MTS lacks licenses to cover the district.

However, MTS said it has not abandoned plans to enter the Volga district.

Svyazinvest Adviser

MOSCOW (MT) -- Vitaly Savelyev, former head of corporate finance at Gazprom, has been appointed adviser to Svyazinvest general director Valery Yashin, Vedomosti reported Monday.

He is expected to be put in charge of introducing international accounting standards and a financial planning and budgeting system at the state-controlled telecoms holding.

Savelyev came to Gazprom in September from St. Petersburg bank Menatep. He left the gas monopoly in May due to an "internal conflict" with CEO Alexei Miller, analysts said.

Metro Off the Hook

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- The Anti-Monopoly Ministry last week ended its investigation of Metro after it ruled that the German retailer had not violated consumers' rights.

The Russian Association of Retail Companies -- which includes the Sedmoi Kontinent, SportMaster and Kopeika chains, some of Metro's main competitors -- complained to the ministry in the spring, saying that Metro was deciding whether to repair or replace faulty goods sold at its stores during the guarantee period.

The association argued that under the Civil Code, consumers have the right to choose themselves.

The ministry ruled, however, that since Metro works with legal entities rather than private individuals, the store's work is not governed by that law.

New SABMiller Beer

MOSCOW (MT) -- Brewer SABMiller said Monday it is launching a new national brand to be called Tri Bogatyrya, or Three Knights.

The beer will compete in the low-core price range, an SABMiller spokeswoman said Monday. SABMiller will produce Tri Bogatyrya at its Kaluga brewery. The beer will be sold initially in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

For the Record

No. 1 cellular operator Mobile TeleSystems has launched a network in the northwest Arkhangelsk region, the company said Monday. MTS said it plans to launch networks in the Tyumen and Chelyabinsk regions in August. (MT)

Belarus' foreign debt rose 4.6 percent in the first half to $797.9 million, according to preliminary data revealed by the Belarussian Finance Ministry on Monday. (Prime-Tass)

Money supply minus hard currency deposits rose 9.3 percent in the first half to 1.751 trillion rubles ($60 billion), the Central Bank said Monday. (Prime-Tass)

Transaero airlines received its first Boeing 767 over the weekend, company spokesman Sergei Bykhal said Monday. Transaero expects to get a second Boeing 767 later this year and both jets are to be leased, he said. (MT)