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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Metatabak Withdrawal

SOFIA, Bulgaria (Reuters) -- Metatabak Consortium said Tuesday it would withdraw its offer to buy 80 percent of Bulgarian tobacco monopoly Bulgartabak because it was unhappy with the tender procedure.

Metatabak representative Georgi Tasev told reporters the consortium may challenge the privatization in court.

The consortium's announcement follows the Bulgarian Privatization Agency's decision not to allow bidders to improve their final offers, which were submitted last month.

"We refuse to take part in a farce," said Metatabak's Tasev, adding that the agency was biased and had broken the rules of equality and transparency.

Agency officials denied Metatabak's accusations.

In July, Bulgaria received four final bids for Bulgartabak ranging from 64 million euros ($62.7 million) to 110 million euros. The agency plans to name the winner by Aug. 25.

Bond Ceiling Lifted

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Finance Ministry has increased the maximum volume of a possible 2003 Eurobond issue to $1.25 billion from $1 billion, Interfax quoted Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Kolotukhin as saying Tuesday.

Kolotukhin justified the move by saying the country might encounter bigger risks next year, when foreign debt payments will rise to around $17 billion from $14 billion this year.

"The 2003 budget is drafted with a surplus, that is why Eurobonds are unlikely to become a means of funding," he said. "But the government thinks it necessary to fix the right to issue Eurobonds to service and repay foreign debt in the borrowing program, although it is not a fact that we shall use the right."

Hungarian Auto Buy

BUDAPEST, Hungary (Reuters) -- Hungarian auto group Raba is negotiating the sale of its engine manufacturing unit to Ukrainian-Russian group AvtoLAZ, Raba CEO Laszlo Steiner said Tuesday.

"We are talking about the sale of the engine unit, and the engine unit only," Steiner told a news conference.

Financial director Peter Lengyel added that the two companies have already agreed on an as yet undisclosed sales price, but were negotiating about what that price would include.

IT Spending

MOSCOW (MT) -- Russian companies increased expenses on IT services 31 percent year on year to $850 million in 2001, the Russian research company IDC said Tuesday in a report.

About 30 percent of companies' IT budgets was spent on system integration projects such as designing and building networks, and 25 percent was spent on building information systems.

Croc Inc., IBS and R-Style accounted for just below 10 percent of the information technology services market.

Nickel Boost

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Metals giant Norilsk Nickel boosted nickel exports 27.9 percent year on year to 108,700 tons in the first half of 2002, the company's deputy board chairman Maxim Finsky said Tuesday.

Copper exports remained almost unchanged year on year in the first half, he said. In the first half of last year, Norilsk Nickel exported 85,000 tons of nickel and 200,000 tons of copper.

30M Tons Harvested

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia harvested 30 million tons of grain by bunker weight by Aug. 1, up from 26.7 million at the same date last year, the State Statistics Committee said Tuesday.

The figure included 21.5 million tons of wheat, a 18.2 percent increase from Aug. 1, 2001, the committee said in a statement.

New Flight Standards

Moscow (Prime-Tass) -- Russia will introduce new flight standards starting Jan. 1 in accordance with new federal aviation regulations, Itar-Tass reported Tuesday.

The new rules were adopted by Transportation Minister Sergei Frank, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Yury Koptev, head of national aerospace agency Rosaviakosmos.

Commercial aircraft passing over or under each other will be required to keep an altitude difference of 300

meters. Airplanes were earlier required to keep their altitudes 500 meters apart.