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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

$63Bln in Assets

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The assets of the Central Bank rose 1.5 percent in July to 2.001 trillion rubles ($63.3 billion), the Central Bank said Thursday.

The amount of cash in circulation increased to 699.480 billion rubles as of Aug. 1 from 685.682 billion rubles a month earlier.

Deposits with the bank rose to 817.193 billion rubles from 790.589 billion rubles. The bank's capital fell to 242.155 billion rubles from 242.176 billion rubles.

Putin: Budget Top Item

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- President Vladimir Putin called on lawmakers Thursday to take their time over the 2003 draft budget, which he called the most important piece of legislation in the fall session that opens Friday, State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov said.

"The government has already discussed the draft 2003 budget with deputies, so it has actually been adopted in 'the zero reading,'" Putin was quoted by Itar-Tass as telling Seleznyov and Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov.

The draft budget must pass four readings in the Duma before being submitted to the upper house and then the president.

Putin recommended that although the deputies should be prompt in their work, they should avoid any rush.

"We'd better measure twice and cut once," Putin said.

Gas Exports Up 20%

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Gas exports to countries outside the CIS rose 20 percent on the year in July to 10.2 billion cubic meters, a source close to the Energy Ministry said Thursday.

In January-July, gas exports to non-CIS countries rose 5.1 percent on the year to 78.4 billion cubic meters.

Gas exports to the CIS countries were up 3.7 percent year on year in July to 3.38 billion cubic meters and 5.1 percent in January-July to 31.28 billion cubic meters.

In July, Russia's gas output rose 7.9 percent on the year to 43.45 billion cubic meters, while in January-July gas output increased 3.1 percent on the year to 345.8 billion cubic meters.

Forex Reserves Slip

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's foreign currency and gold reserves stood at $44.327 billion as of Sept. 1, down slightly from $44.4 as of Aug. 23, the Central Bank said on its web site (

As of the start of September, reserves included $40.587 billion worth of foreign currency versus $39.554 billion as of the start of August.

Surgut Output Jumps

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Oil major Surgutneftegaz produced 32.148 million tons of oil in January-August, up 11.7 percent year on year, the company said in a statement Thursday.

The company's natural gas production rose 16 percent year on year in the period to 8.7 billion cubic meters.

The company drilled 1.961 million meters of wells, up 13 percent year on year, including 191,000 meters of exploratory drilling, up 9 percent on the year.

In January-August, Surgutneftegaz launched 613 new wells. No comparative figures were provided.

In 2001, Surgutneftegaz's oil output was 44 million tons, while gas output totaled 11.1 billion cubic meters.

$92M Alrosa Loan

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Uncut diamond monopoly Alrosa received a syndicated loan Thursday worth $91.5 million from a consortium of Russian and foreign banks, the company said Thursday.

Russia's Ural-Siberian Bank was the loan's co-organizer.

The loan has a two-year duration and an interest rate of 11.5 percent.

The Bank of Moscow and Austria's Donau-Bank organized the consortium.

Alrosa accounts for 99.7 percent of uncut diamond production in Russia. The company produces 20 percent of the world's diamonds in terms of mass and 26 percent in terms of value.

VTB, Sibneft Audits

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Audit Chamber is planning to examine several large companies, including state-owned bank Vneshtorgbank and oil major Sibneft, RosBusinessConsulting reported Thursday.

The chamber will look at Sibneft subsidiaries Sibneft-Noyabrskneftegaz and Sibneft-Omsk. It will also look into the company's activities before it was privatized in the mid-1990s, the news agency quoted the chamber as saying. No further information was provided.

Caspian Cooperation

MOSCOW (MT) -- Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller and the president of LUKoil, Vagit Alekperov, signed an agreement of intention Thursday to participate on a parity basis in a project to develop the northern part of the Caspian Sea, Gazprom was quoted by Interfax as saying Thursday.

Lithuania Sale Delay

VILNIUS (Reuters) -- The Lithuanian government confirmed Thursday it had pushed back deadlines for bids for 34 percent of gas utility Lietuvos Dujos at the request of Gazprom, the only potential bidder for the stake.

"The deadline for initial bids was shifted back two weeks and is now Sept. 26, and final bids are now due Nov. 20, a week later than before," government spokesman Laurynas Bucalis said. "Gazprom had requested this, saying it would not manage to prepare the necessary documents on time," he added.

Gazprom and a Lithuanian partner, gas distributor Dujotekana, on July 16 submitted the only application to bid in a tender for the Dujos stake.

In August, privatization authorities approved Gazprom as a potential investor, but only after the gas giant revised its application and decided to bid alone.

Lithuania is eager to find a working relationship with the Russian firm, its only source of natural gas at present, but has warned it would not give in to pressure and could delay the sell-off if Gazprom offers too little.

Deutsche: Buy Gazprom

LONDON (Reuters) -- Deutsche Bank said in a research report that it had upgraded natural gas giant Gazprom to "buy" from "market perform" with a target price of $17.76 per American Depositary Receipt.

"Gazprom shares have reached their lowest level since January 2002. The share price is down 40 percent from its peak of $19.50 per ADR on June 10," Deutsche said. "The news flow does not justify such a decline, though global market weakness and increasing risk awareness explain part of the drop in emerging market share valuations."

Deutsche said the fall in share price has been particularly strong since mid-July while news has been positive regarding co-operation with foreign and domestic partners, acquisition of a 25 percent stake in Stroitransgaz, further centralization of activities and potential sale of media assets.

On a less positive note, however, Deutsche said Gazprom announced further Eurobond issues and the government last week said that a gas price increase will be kept at 20 percent in 2003.

Brunswick: Buy Surgut

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Brunswick UBS Warburg said Thursday it had upgraded No. 3 oil producer Surgutneftegas to "buy" from "hold" based on Surgut's 14 percent underperformance relative to the Russian market.

Brunswick added that it had downgraded sixth-largest oil producer Tatneft to "hold" from "buy" following its recent outperformance and a negative assessment of its corporate governance policy.

Nuclear Revenues

MOSCOW (MT) -- State-owned nuclear energy monopoly Rosenergoatom plans to double its revenues to 50 billion rubles ($1.6 billion) from 28 billion rubles this year, Rosenergoatom president Oleg Sarayev told reporters Thursday.

The company, which was founded in 1992, manages Russia's 10 nuclear power plants and is responsible for maintaining nuclear and radiological safety at all stages of nuclear power production, including containment and cleanup measures in the event of an accident.

Nikolai Sorokin, Rosenergoatom's technical director, said the company will more than double the amount of money it spends on safety at its plants next year to 4.3 billion rubles from 2 billion rubles this year.

Sorokin, citing a recent study by the world's governing body for nuclear power, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Russia has the third-safest nuclear power industry in the world after Germany and Japan.