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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

RTS Hits New Low

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The RTS index slipped to a new five-month low Tuesday, hurt by Monday's weak showing in larger Western markets, but a late rally in utilities and oils lifted the benchmark index off earlier lows.

The RTS closed down 0.76 percent at 313.99 points, a new five-month low, on thin volume of $12.7 million. The ruble-dominated MICEX gained 2.81 percent on turnover of 2.57 billion rubles ($80 million).

"The market was close to panic in the morning. Everything was bad -- large sales from global funds, the negative developments on the U.S. market, negative futures," said Timur Nasardinov, senior trader at Troika Dialog.

"But for the positive American futures, but for a turnaround on European markets, the market would have been at least where it was in the morning, which is 3 percent down."

Sberbank fell 5.35 percent to $134.4, while utility Mosenergo dropped 0.21 percent to $0.024 and Tatneft declined 0.18 percent to $0.5625.

Benchmark Unified Energy Systems rose 1.55 percent to $0.0853. LUKoil gained 1.77 percent to $14.35, while Sibneft rose 0.58 percent to $1.725 and Yukos was up 0.12 percent to $8.52.

Golden Profit Falls

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Alternative fixed-line telephone and Internet provider Golden Telecom's net profit fell in the second quarter after it wrote down an equity stake in a cellular firm, but revenues jumped with voice traffic.

Golden posted net profit of $2.8 million on net revenues of $39.2 million in the second quarter after profits of $6.2 million on net revenues of $36.4 million in the first quarter.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization edged up to $11.4 million for the second quarter after $11.3 million in the first quarter.

The company wrote off its minority stake in MCT Corp., a cellular holding that had been attempting to pull its networks together into a national operator. Golden had previously swapped a small cell firm for an equity stake in MCT.

"Our quarterly net income was positive but it was adversely impacted by our share of the losses incurred by MCT Corp. As a result of MCT Corp.'s significant U.S. GAAP losses in the second quarter, we wrote off our remaining investment in the company," chief financial officer David Stewart said in a statement.

Subscribers Up 800,000

MOSCOW (MT) -- The number of cellphone subscribers in Russia rose 800,000 to 12.5 million in July, consulting firm J'son & Partners said in a report Tuesday.

No. 1 operator Mobile TeleSystems had 4.69 million subscribers nationwide, No. 2 operator Vimpelcom had 3.63 million and Megafon had 1.88 million. Vimpelcom had 3.03 million subscribers in Moscow, while MTS had 2.48 million.

Gazprom Exploration

MOSCOW (MT) -- Gazflot, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprom, is ready to begin exploring natural gas fields in the Arctic's offshore zones.

Amazone, a floating drilling platform constructed by Norwegian shipyard Aker Stord Verft, has been towed to the Obsko-Tazovsky Bay in the northern Karskoye Sea, Gazprom said in statement Monday.

Gazflot plans to drill 35 wells in the area over the next six years and conduct seismic studies. The entire project will cost an estimated $412 million.

It is estimated that the bay's seabed holds 400 million tons of oil and more than a trillion cubic meters of gas.

Pakistan Pipe?

MOSCOW (MT) -- Pakistan's Natural Resources Ministry has asked that Gazprom be given permission to begin work on a gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan's territorial waters, local media reported Monday.

The Pakistani government is considering two other pipeline plans. Australia's BHP Petroleum is proposing a $3 billion pipeline that would run overland in Pakistan, and the Italian Snamprogetti is considering laying the pipeline on the bottom of the Arabian Sea.

Oil Refinery Halted

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Moscow Oil Refinery halted operations Tuesday due to a lack of crude oil supplies, RosBusinessConsulting reported Tuesday.

The refinery will only be able to refine 50,000 tons in August, although management had earlier planned volumes of up to 250,000 tons.

Following a court order, pipeline monopoly Transneft refused to transport oil from trader Nafta Petrol, which was scheduled to supply the refinery with 400,000 tons.

Sibneft, which owns 37 percent of the refinery, expressed "serious concern" about the fall in processing. Although the refinery has had trouble securing steady shipments, it will not buy oil Sibneft is ready to supply.

Sibneft applied to supply the refinery with 600,000 tons of crude in August, but received a quota of 20,000 tons.

"Sibneft believes that the refinery's practice of signing short-term supply contracts with a duration of one month has deprived it of a long-term strategy for sourcing supplies," the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Neither Transneft nor the Moscow refinery could be reached for comment.

Sibneft Acquisition

MOSCOW (MT) -- Sibneft shareholders on Tuesday approved the acquisition of Argus, a trading firm affiliated with the oil company, at an extraordinary meeting, the company said in a statement.

The acquisition will be carried out through a share swap and is taking place within the framework of Sibneft's efforts to further consolidate its corporate structure.

Shareholders are scheduled to finalize the transaction Sept. 17.

DeltaCredit Rating

MOSCOW (MT) -- Standard & Poor's said Tuesday it has assigned CCC+ long-term and C short-term counterparty credit and certificate of deposit ratings to DeltaCredit Bank. The outlook is positive.