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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Shell, State Make Peace

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Natural Resources Ministry said Monday it had cleared the way for oil major Royal Dutch/Shell to invest $1 billion in a Siberian oilfield after threatening for months to withdraw the license.

The move follows last month's meeting between Shell chairman Philip Watts and President Vladimir Putin, who promised a favorable investment climate for the oil giant.

The ministry said in a statement it had agreed with Shell to drop mutual lawsuits over its threat to withdraw the Salym license because Shell was failing to meet unspecified exploration and production targets.

"The ministry will refrain from any action leading to withdrawal of a license for the Salym group of fields from the company," the statement said.

The ministry added it had agreed that Shell would in exchange withdraw a number of its appeals against the ministry's previous suits and would refrain from further legal action.

Trade Surplus Soars

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The foreign trade surplus rose 30.5 percent to $48.8 billion in the first eight months of 2003, largely because of booming oil exports, the State Customs Committee said Monday.

"The foreign trade balance was in surplus and stood at $48.8 billion compared with $37.4 billion in the January-August period of 2002," the committee said in a statement.

The foreign trade surplus was $41.8 billion in the January-July period.

In the first eight months of the year, exports were at $83.8 billion, a rise of 26.2 percent on the same period of 2002, while imports stood at $35 billion, an increase of 20.6 percent.

The statement said 81 percent of a $14.3 billion rise in export value to non-CIS countries was provided by deliveries of energy resources.

Energy resources made up 61.1 percent of overall exports outside the former Soviet Union, with physical crude oil exports volumes increasing by 17.3 percent, year on year.

Energy resources made up 56 percent of the country's exports in the first seven months of 2002.

The committee said vehicles and machinery accounted for nearly 40 percent of Russia's imports over the period with foodstuffs and raw materials to produce food shrinking to 22.4 percent from 25.1 percent a year ago.

Russia's top trading partner was Germany, accounting for 9.6 percent of overall trade turnover in the first eight months of the year. It was trailed by Belarus and Ukraine with 6.6 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively.

Surgut Output Up

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Surgutneftegaz's oil output rose 10 percent on the year to 39.9 million metric tons in January-September, the company said in a statement Monday.

Natural gas production rose 5 percent on the year, reaching 10.2 billion cubic meters. The company's production drilling totaled 2,310 meters in the period, up 4 percent on the year. Surgutneftegaz launched 703 new wells in January-September. No comparisons were provided.

In total, Surgutneftegaz expects oil production to increase by 7.5 percent on the year to 52.8 million tons and gas output by 2.3 percent on the year to 13.6 billion cubic meters. The company expects its daily oil production to go up to 147,670 tons this year.

$1.6Bln More for Yukos

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Yukos has attracted a $1.6 billion loan organized by SG Corporate and Investment Bank, the company said in a statement Monday.

The loan is guaranteed by Yukos' oil export revenues and its terms are identical to those of the $1 billion loan agreement the company signed last month, the statement said.

The loan will not be syndicated.

The statement also said that Menatep Group, Yukos' key shareholder, would provide "financial support" for organizing the loan.

On Sept. 24, Yukos said it had signed a $1 billion loan agreement with Citigroup, Commerzbank, Credit Lyonnais, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING and SG CIB.

Ford Triples Sales

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- U.S.-based Ford Motor Company sold 12,841 cars in Russia through its official dealerships in January-September, up from 4,027 automobiles sold in the same period last year, an official with the company's Russian representative office said Monday.

The best-selling models in January-September were the Ford Focus, the model it manufactures in the Leningrad region, with a total of 9,412 cars sol; the Ford Mondeo, with a total of 1,985 cars; and the Ford Maverick, with a total of 545 cars.

Ford cars available on the Russian market include the Ford Ka, Mondeo, Focus, the Ford Galaxy and Ford Transit minivans, and the Ford Explorer, Expedition and Maverick sports utility vehicles.

In 2002, Ford sold 6,669 cars through its official dealerships in Russia, up 61.7 percent on the previous year.

Megafon Stake Limbo

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Alfa Group said Monday a Caribbean court had lifted an injunction on a contested stake in mobile firm Megafon, but the fund suing to stop Alfa from taking the stake said the injunction was still largely in place.

Alfa unit Alfa Eco, a major shareholder in Megafon's larger rival Vimpelcom, announced in August it had taken over a small Moscow investment banking boutique, LV Finance, and that the deal included a 25 percent stake in Megafon, held through a unit called CT Mobile.

Bermuda-based investment fund IPOC, which owns 6.5 percent stake in Megafon, filed lawsuits in the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands claiming it had bought the 25 percent stake from LV Finance before it was sold to Alfa.

"The order remains in force for 14 of the 16 defendants in the British Virgin Islands, including the three BVI companies that Alfa Eco maintains purchased the Megafon stake," IPOC said.

"We expect a full judgement from the BVI court in the next fortnight or so and will be posting the security required as part of normal court practice to keep these receivership and injunctive remedies in place."

It was not clear where the stake is currently held.

$35M Polypro Plant

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Domestic construction and retail holding Marta plans to build a plant to produce polypropylene film for food packaging and industrial use in the Moscow region, the company said Monday.

The plant's annual output capacity is expected at 17,500 metric tons of polypropylene film and investments are to amount to $35 million.

Marta, established in 1992, controls the Spar retail store chain on franchise terms and the Kukhni Marta retail store chain, specializing in kitchen furniture.