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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Sheremetyevo Busier

MOSCOW (MT) -- Sheremetyevo Airport handled 8.8 million passengers in the first nine months of the year, up 4.3 percent over the same period in 2002, the airport said Tuesday.

In September, Sheremetyevo handled 1.19 million passengers, up 12.3 percent year on year.

The airport handled 10.8 million passengers in 2002 and expects to service nearly 11 million this year.

Sheremetyevo services over 100 domestic and foreign carriers.

Ruble Passes 30

MOSCOW (MT) -- The ruble continued its upward stride Tuesday on the back of forthcoming tax payments by companies, forcing the Central Bank to intervene to slow the rise, dealers said.

The ruble firmed against the dollar in early official trade to a weighted average for tomorrow settlement of 29.9319 per dollar from 30.0179 in the previous session.

Dealers said the Central Bank had started intervening when the ruble for tomorrow delivery strengthened to 29.9150, and had so far sold about $60 million.

"As expected, the dollar's fall continued but the Central Bank managed to curb it. Tax payments still affect the market," Alfa Bank dealer Alexei Bukleyev said.

In Monday trading, the ruble broke through the psychologically important level of 30, but the Central Bank, which had intervened heavily to support the U.S. currency in previous weeks, abstained from the market then.

"The dollar weakening against the ruble is justified and we can hardly expect the Central Bank to stop it," investment bank Trust said in a research note. "The Central Bank can only change the tempo but its instruments are limited because of inflationary consequences of its interventions."

Rostel Revenues Soar

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Long-distance phone company Rostelecom said Tuesday that its first-half 2003 revenues rose 11 percent to $440 million as it managed to staunch a decline in market share, and saw further improvement this year.

But a big jump in depreciation and a resulting 45 percent decline in operating profit came as a surprise to analysts, and the stock fell nearly 3 percent.

First-half 2003 net profit came in at $29.7 million, up from $21 million a year ago, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization edged up to $176 million from $173 million. First-half 2002 revenues were $398 million.

"The most important thing is the top line, sales and EBITDA. For the first time in many years they are showing revenue growth of more than 10 percent," Troika Dialog analyst Yevgeny Golossnoi said.

Rostel said it had stopped losing revenue in Moscow, the biggest urban market for long-distance operators, and revenue would continue to improve in the second half.

TMK Consolidates

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Trubnaya Metallurgicheskaya Kompaniya, Russia's top producer of steel pipes, has won permission from the government to consolidate its four pipe plants, advancing the company's plans to sell shares in an initial public offering.

TMK received approval from the Anti-Monopoly Ministry to consolidate almost 100 percent of the shares in each of the four plants TMK controls, said Larisa Bulgakova, head of the ministry's press service.

The Moscow-based company this month said it planned to sell shares in an IPO after consolidating control of its assets, in a presentation before a planned bond sale.

Shares in TMK units Seversky Pipeworks, Sinarsky Pipeworks and Taganrog Metallurgical Plant now trade on the Russian Trading System. TMK also owns the Volzhsky Pipe Plant.

TMK aims to boost production 16 percent to 2.36 million tons of pipes this year, TMK deputy CEO Alexander Shiryayev said last week.

TMK CEO Dmitry Pumpyansky owns 67 percent of the company, with the rest owned by MDM Group, a holding company with assets in financial, steel, coal and chemical businesses.

2nd Mega Mall Coming

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- IKEA, the world's biggest home-furnishing retailer, on Wednesday will start building its second shopping mall in Moscow to tap growing Russian consumer demand.

The company, which is controlled by the family of Swedish founder Ingvar Kamprad and based in the Netherlands, will spend $300 million to build a 230,000-square-meter Mega mall alongside its first store in Khimki in the Moscow region, according to a statement from IKEA. The new mall will open next year, it said.

IKEA and other Western retailers such as Germany's Metro AG are opening stores in Russia as the country's economy expands for a fifth year in a row.

The company this year opened its first Mega mall alongside an existing store in southern Moscow. IKEA plans to add three more outlets in Moscow, two in St. Petersburg and one in the city of Kazan, according to its web site.

U.S. Farm Credits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. Agriculture Department said Monday that it had agreed to provide $390 million in farm export credits to China and $152 million to Russia.

The USDA also said it authorized $735 million in U.S. export credits to South America.

The USDA offers export credits to facilitate sales by assuring lenders that they will get their money back even if the borrower defaults.

Yukos: No Oil for Euros

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Yukos does not expect any international oil markets to start pricing oil in euros instead of U.S. dollars, said Bruce Misamore, the company's chief financial officer.

A switch to euros for oil trading will not happen "in my lifetime," Misamore told a conference. "What we have said all along is that governments may make any statements they want, but that's commerce -- the crude oil market is not going to change from a dollar market."

The European Union on Friday urged Russia, Europe's biggest oil producer, to use the euro more in oil markets, saying it would gain by pricing exports to Europe in the EU currency. Prime Minister Kasyanov said that is up to the market.

"If OPEC decides to price oil in some other currency, that may have an effect," Misamore said. "If Russia makes such a decision, the effect will be marginal."

If a buyer demanded a future contract for oil delivery in euros, Yukos would have to raise the price of the fuel to compensate for currency risk, he said.

Gazprom Output Hike

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Gazprom plans to increase production by 2 percent next year as it pumps more fuel from its new Siberian field.

Gas production will rise by between 10 billion and 11 billion cubic meters, the gas company said Tuesday. Gazprom on Sept. 5 said it expects to pump 540 bcm of gas this year, exceeding its initial forecast for 532 bcm.

Moscow-based Gazprom supplies about a quarter of the gas consumed in Western Europe. It plans to boost exports next year to Europe and to former Soviet states. Gazprom also plans to increase purchases of gas from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan next year.

"Gas transport will be a priority in the company's investment program" next year, Gazprom said. The company plans to cut costs and reduce its debt-servicing payments as well as reducing the amount it is owed for fuel already sold.