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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Aeroflot Union Strike?

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Trade unions at Aeroflot said Wednesday they would ground the flag carrier if a pay dispute was not settled in days, brushing aside Aeroflot's assertion that a stoppage would be unlawful.

"The unions will decide on strike action by Jan. 30. If management does not resume negotiations, it is most likely that a strike will be called," Viktor Kleshchenkov, president of the association of Aeroflot trade unions, told a news conference.

The four unions involved in the Aeroflot stoppage, representing just over a third of the airline's 15,000 staff, are unhappy with a pay system that rewards crews according to the type of plane they fly rather then length of service and expertise.

Crews of larger, more modern aircraft earn more than colleagues working aboard the Tu-154, for example, the Soviet-built backbone of the Russian fleet.

Norilsk Labor Talks

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The head of the biggest union at metals giant Norilsk Nickel said Wednesday it had agreed with the company's management to meet Friday to negotiate a settlement averting a strike over pay.

"Our representatives will have a meeting with Moscow representatives on Friday," said Valery Glazkov, chairman of the Interregional Alliance of Trade Unions of Norilsk Nickel. The union is demanding a 17 percent hike, which would lift average pay to 28,000 rubles ($853) a month.

Other union demands include longer paid vacations and the disclosure of information, including the wages of the company's top managers.

On Tuesday, Olga Golodets, who is Norilsk's deputy general director for personnel and social policy, said the only way to meet union pay demands in full could be to lay off 8,000 workers out of 60,000 on the Arctic division's payroll.

CB Says Who May Buy

MOSCOW (MT) -- Central Bank policy allows all residents to buy Russian Eurobonds and dollar-denominated government bonds, First Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov said in a letter published on the bank's web site this week.

In the letter addressed to Pavel Teplukhin, president of Troika Dialog, Kozlov said that both individuals and legal entities may buy currency-denominated instruments through opening special dollar accounts with authorized banks.

The letter can be seen as giving legal permission to all local asset management companies, the Central Bank said.

Gazprom Expects 10%

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas firm, expects to get a 10.1 percent to 10.66 percent yield for its planned Eurobond led by Morgan Stanley and Kleinwort Benson, a Gazprom source said Wednesday.

"The idea is to issue … up to $1 billion worth of bonds," the source said after a board meeting Tuesday.

Airlines Mull Alliance

MOSCOW (MT) -- East Line, Domodedovo, Saratov and Encor airlines -- all of which operate from Domodedovo Airport -- are mulling an alliance, East Line general director Alexei Rayevsky said Wednesday.

"There are a lot of spheres where we could cooperate … [but] we are not talking about a merger, all companies will retain their legal structure," Rayevsky said at a news conference.

He said that the airlines might pool their efforts in order to use aircraft and routes more effectively, as well as cooperate in technical maintenance and personnel training.

He said that an agreement to this effect could be signed by the end of this month.

RTS Utilities Rise

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Utility shares rose Wednesday after a report that LUKoil had bought a substantial stake in a utility near one of its refineries, raising hopes of other such deals.

At the same time, electricity company Unified Energy Systems fell and the benchmark RTS index was barely changed, closing down 0.3 percent at 342.89.

"Electricity is a hot topic. … If you short [sell] UES and take long positions in regional utilities, it could work out well," Alfa Bank head of domestic sales Oleg Martynenko said.

"Everyone can see there is an investor, and [brokers] are trying to take clients into those shares or do something themselves."

Vedomosti reported that LUKoil had bought a blocking stake in the Volgogradenergo utility near a key refinery.

A LUKoil official said last month that the firm had built up a stake of more than 25 percent in one Russian utility and smaller stakes in four others.

For the Record

Aeroflot chief financial officer Alexander Zurabov has been appointed an advisor to Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on civil aviation matters. (MT)