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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Budget Surplus Fades

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Finance Ministry said Tuesday it had cut its 2003 budget surplus estimate to 148.3 billion rubles ($4.87 billion) from the previous forecast of 159.6 billion rubles because of planned higher spending.

The government sets aside its budget surplus to the government's reserve fund, set up to smooth servicing the country's foreign debt.

"The Finance Ministry has presented new 2003 budget parameters which take into account a rise of budget spending by 68.7 billion rubles," First Deputy Finance Minister Tatyana Golikova told reporters.

'No Yukos Deal Barriers'

MOSCOW (MT) -- There are no legal barriers to U.S. oil major ExxonMobil buying a large stake in top oil producer YukosSibneft, Interfax said Tuesday, citing a government source.

"Yukos had earlier informed the government that it was conducting talks on selling a large stake [with many companies], including ExxonMobil," the source said.

The source said that ExxonMobil's CEO Lee Raymond informed Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov that his company was in talks with Yukos about equity participation during their meeting last Friday. The source said: "There are no legal barriers to completing a deal."

New Railways Minister

MOSCOW (MT) -- Vadim Morozov has been appointed railways minister, Interfax cited the ministry's press service as saying Tuesday, having previously held the post of first deputy minister.

Former Railways Minister Gennady Fadeyev stepped down two weeks ago when he was appointed president of the newly formed state colossus Russian Railways Co., or RZD. Under the government's program for railways reform, Railways ministry will be signed over to RZD or gradually absorbed by the Transportation Ministry.

Sheremetyevo Tender

MOSCOW (MT) -- Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said the tender for the company that will manage Sheremetyevo international airport will have to be completed by Dec.1, his spokeswoman, Tatyana Razbash, said Tuesday.

"Mikhail Kasyanov approved the tender documents presented to the government by the Property Ministry," Razbash said by telephone without elaborating. She said only that the board of state-owned Sheremetyevo would approve conditions for the tender at its next meeting.

So far, four companies -- Alfa Eco, National Reserve Bank, AFK Sistema and Argentina's Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 -- have said they will bid for the right to manage the airport's two existing terminals and a third that has yet to be built.

Helicopters for the UN

Khanty-Mansiisk, Western Siberia (MT) -- The United Nations has signed two one-year transport contracts worth a total of $19 million with Khanty-Mansiisk-based UTair to supply its mission in Liberia.

Under the first contract, UTair will supply five Mi-8MTB helicopters, three of which will enter service Oct. 16. Two Mi-26 helicopters will be supplied under the second contract for emergency and medical evacuations as well as cargo transport.

UTair is expected to purchase new Mi-26 helicopters for the deal.

UTair, the biggest helicopter operator in the world, has a pool of 181 craft, of which 19 are already employed by UN projects in the African continent.

The Khanty-Mansiisk government is UTair's largest shareholder with a 25 percent stake, while the Surgut regional administration holds 18.8 percent.

Norilsk's Overseas Arm

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Metals giant Norilsk Nickel said Tuesday it had registered a new company in Britain, Norilsk Nickel Europe Limited, which will become its main sales and distribution company on world markets.

The new company was created to develop Norilsk's overseas distribution network, which will comprise several companies in the United States, Switzerland and Hong Kong.

VTB Joins Retail Race

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- No.2 bank, government-owned Vneshtorgbank, or VTB, joined local banks in the race for billions of dollars of household funds by opening Tuesday a division for mortgage and retail credits.

As most corporate clients have already found their financial institution, banks have launched an aggressive hunt for the only untapped source of funds -- under-the-mattress money.

"We need to become one of the leaders on the retail market," bank head Andrei Kostin said.

He said VTB needed to capture 8 percent of the market within the next five years compared with the current 1.5 percent.

It plans to invest at least $190 million between 2004 and 2006, he said.