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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Debt Fund Shortage

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia is unlikely to accumulate as much money as planned in a fund designed to help meet 2003 foreign debt payments due to poor fiscal discipline and lower oil prices, a Finance Ministry source said Tuesday.

The government wants to funnel 197.8 billion rubles ($6.28 billion) into a special financial reserve to help service $17 billion of debt in 2003.

The source said the reserve shrank to between 38 billion and 40 billion rubles from 88 billion rubles at the start of the year and the ministry expected it to increase by just 71 billion rubles.

Gas Price Collusion?

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Anti-Monopoly Ministry has accused Yukos and LUKoil subsidiaries of violating a federal law on competition by colluding to raise prices for gasoline and diesel fuel, Interfax reported a ministry official as saying Tuesday.

A commission at the Anti-Monopoly Ministry's Stavropol division will meet Thursday to review the case against Stavropolnefteprodukt and LUKoil-Severokavkaznefteprodukt, said Sergei Nikitin, deputy head of the Stavropol division. The companies have raised prices for oil products four times simultaneously since May 16, Nikitin said.

$60Bln in State Stakes

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The government holds about 3,500 stakes in companies with a total value of about $60 billion, Deputy Property Minister Sergei Molozhavy said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta published Tuesday.

Molozhavy told the newspaper that the government owns about 300 million square meters of real estate.

Molozhavy said the government plans to receive 65 billion rubles ($2.06 billion) from privatization this year and 100 billion rubles next year, up from 40 billion rubles in 2001.

Yukos, China Talks

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- No. 2 oil major Yukos is in talks with China National Petroleum Co. and Sinopec to jointly develop oil fields in eastern Siberia, newspapers reported Tuesday.

Kommersant and Vedomosti quoted Yukos spokesman Alexander Shadrin as saying Yukos wants to share risks in eastern Siberia and is currently holding talks on the issue with a number of domestic and foreign companies. Shadrin declined to name any oil fields in the region that could be jointly developed.

Megafon Networks

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 3 cellular operator Megafon launched networks in the Urals cities of Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk and Nizhny Tagil on Tuesday.

Megafon will soon launch networks in the Urals city of Perm and the Siberian cities of Tyumen and Surgut, the company said in a statement.

BCS Section Finished

MOSCOW (MT) -- Long-distance telephone monopoly Rostelecom has finished the Moscow-St. Petersburg section of the Baltic Cable System, a fiber-optic cable linking Russia and Scandinavia, the company said Monday.

U.S. Coal Buy?

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- A group of U.S. companies is in talks to buy 10 million tons of coking coal from two companies in Siberia's Kemerovo region, Igor Prostyakov, the presidential representative to the Siberian Federal District, said Tuesday.

McGuire Woods International, a law firm representing the U.S. companies, conducted the talks with Kuzbassugol and Kuzbassrazrezugol to supply the coal for a metals plant in Slovakia, Prostyakov said. He did not provide any further details.

Beer Blunder

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- The Biznes Analytika marketing agency Monday revised down its beer consumption growth data for the first half of 2002 from 23 percent to 16 percent, citing a mathematical error in the original figures.

The State Statistics Committee on Monday said beer production grew 18 percent to a total of 352 million dekaliters in the first half of 2002.

Per-Second Tariff

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 2 cellular operator Vimpelcom on Monday launched a new tariff plan with per-second billing from the start of calls.

Klassika GSM charges 25 cents per minute, a monthly fee of $5 and a 60 percent discount on local calls made on weekends and holidays.

An average call among Vimpelcom's users lasts 30 to 40 seconds, the company said in a statement. Such callers previously would have been charged for a full minute.

Slavneft Restructuring

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- Slavneft president Yury Sukhanov has initiated major management changes as he dissembles Mikhail Gutseriyev's team.

Sukhanov and Gutseriyev were involved in a protracted dispute over the Slavneft presidency.

Two new vice presidents have already been approved by the company's board of directors, a Slavneft official said Monday.

Domovoi Raid

MOSCOW (MT) -- A court marshal accompanied by seven men raided the editorial offices of Domovoi magazine, partly owned by Kommersant publishing house, late Monday.

The men, who had confiscated keys from employees, withdrew following talks between lawyers representing Domovoi publisher Sto Vosem and Kommersant.

"It turned out that the essence of the incident has nothing to do with Domovoi magazine's activity and concerns a property dispute among shareholders," the magazine said in a statement Tuesday. The magazine did not clarify what the dispute is about.

For the Record

The foreign trade surplus shrank to $17.560 billion in the first five months of 2002 from $22.034 billion in the same period last year, Interfax reported the State Statistics Committee as saying Tuesday. (MT)

Retail sales in Russia grew 8.4 percent year on year to 1.689 trillion rubles ($50 billion) in the first half of 2002, Interfax reported the State Statistics Committee as saying Tuesday. Retail sales in June rose 7.6 percent year on year to 295 billion rubles ($9.35 billion). (MT)

Gazprom deputy CEO Yury Komarov is to temporarily take over the duties of Oleg Siyenko, who has served five months as general director of Gazexport, Gazprom said Tuesday. (MT)

Average salaries if calculated to 1991 prices have fallen 47 percent in the past 10 years through 2001, Interfax reported the State Statistics Committee as saying Monday. The average wage is now 3,282 rubles ($104) per month. (MT)

Moscow brewer Ochakovo's sales rose 22 percent year on year in the first six months of 2002 to 295.92 million liters, the company reported Tuesday. (MT)

The labor force is expected to rise by about 1.9 million through 2005 but labor demand will rise by only 1.5 million, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said Tuesday. (Prime-Tass)

Ozon, Russia's biggest online retailer of books, CDs, videos, DVDs, toys and games, said Thursday that its sales rose 150 percent year on year to $1.864 million in the first half of 2002. (Prime-Tass)

First Deputy Energy Minister Gurami Avalishvili has been fired, the government information department said Tuesday. (MT)