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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Arms Exports at $3Bln

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Russia's weapons and military equipment exports exceeded $3 billion in January-July, accounting for more than 70 percent of the target for the whole of 2003, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, Itar-Tass reported.

In a separate development, the country's state arms exporting agency Rosoboronexport announced Tuesday that its exports in January-June were 30 percent above target.

Rosoboronexport did not give absolute figures, but said that in 2002 its exports amounted to over $4 billion.

Putin said the "liberalization of Russian arms and military equipment exports is continuing."

The number of military equipment producers allowed to export their output of their own accord has increased, he added.

AvtoVaz to Sell Stake?

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Russia's largest car manufacturer AvtoVaz is negotiating the sale of an unspecified stake in the company to foreign portfolio investors, the company's vice president for strategic and corporate management Mikhail Moskalyov told a briefing Tuesday.

Moskalyov did not name the potential investors. He did say, however, that if the investors become part of AvtoVaz, the company's shares would rise "dramatically."

On Nov. 10, the company plans to release financial results calculated under international accounting standards.

New Metals Tax?

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Russia may start indexing taxes on aluminum, copper, gold, nickel and platinum to world prices, replacing the existing tax based on domestic prices, Vedomosti reported Tuesday, citing Andrei Fyodorov, head of the Tax Ministry's department for payments from resource companies.

The ministry may be pushing the change to boost revenue from metals producers, which has changed little at a time when prices for metals such as nickel have increased, Vedomosti said, citing analysts including Vyacheslav Smolnaninov of investment bank NIKoil.

The new metals tax would be similar to taxes on crude oil extraction, where rates are based on the average quarterly price for Urals crude, Russia's main export blend, the newspaper said.

The existing system levies a flat 8 percent tax on metals based on prices provided by the companies that extract them.

Rails Get Busier

MOSCOW (MT) -- In the first 10 months of this year, Russian railways carried 961.5 million tons of cargo, over 7 percent more than in the same period last year, Gennady Fadeyev, president of Russian Railways Co., or RZD, said Tuesday.

A total of 1.099 billion passengers traveled by train between January and October, which is 1.5 percent up on the same period last year.

Fadeyev also noted that there had been an increase in delays to journeys and they now represented 0.4 percent of the scheduled timetable.

RZD's revenues from its core business should amount to at least 6 billion rubles ($201 million) in the fourth quarter of this year, he said.

RZD inherited most of the commercial functions of the $13 billion-per-year Railways Ministry when it officially rolled into service last month.

IKEA Plans Plant

ST. PETERSBURG (Prime-Tass) -- Swedwood, a subsidiary of Swedish furniture retailer IKEA, plans to build a 16 million euro ($18.4 million) furniture plant in the Moscow region, the company's president Peter Berntsson told reporters Tuesday.

The plant will produce furniture out of chipboard to be supplied to IKEA stores in Russia, he said.

The annual output is seen at 25 million euros ($28.7 million).

The construction will start in the near future, he said without elaborating.

Lycos to Close Web Site

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Popular Internet portal Lycos has decided to close down its Russian web site before Dec. 31, Vedomosti reported Tuesday.

The web site, which provides e-mail, search, news and chat services, stopped registering new users as of Oct. 29, Vedomosti reported.

The share of Russian Internet users who visited the web site fell to 7.1 percent in the first six months of this year from 7.3 percent in July-December 2002 and 9.8 percent in January-June 2002, according to research by Comcon, the business daily reported.

Russia, Israel Trade Up

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The trade turnover between Russia and Israel is expected at $1.2 billion-1.3 billion this year, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Tuesday.

Kasyanov did not give the figures for 2002, though he said that in 1992 the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $20 million.

Russia is interested in mutual investments in the two countries' economies, as well as in implementing various projects in Israel, Kasyanov added.

Diamond Trademark?

ANTWERP, Belgium (Prime-Tass) -- Russia's uncut diamond monopoly Alrosa is creating its own trademark and special technology, intended to prevent the production of counterfeit diamonds, Alrosa's president Vladimir Kalitin told an international diamond conference Tuesday, Itar-Tass reported.

The measures are aimed at ensuring high quality and preventing the forgery of gems that are unique in terms of quality and size, he said.

The new technology will be implemented throughout the entire technological process, from the production of uncut diamonds to making jewelry and retail, Kalitin said.

At the same time, the company is ready to establish a joint trademark for other types of diamonds with foreign companies, Kalitin said.

Eural-Polish Deal

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Poland agreed to buy 2 billion cubic meters of Turkmen natural gas by July 2004 through trading company Eural Transgas, bypassing Gazprom, Vedomosti reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified official at Polish gas monopoly Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA, or PGNiG.

PGNiG may agree to take another 1 billion cubic meters of gas from Hungary-registered Eural, which sells the fuel at cheaper prices than Gazprom, the official told the paper.

Naftogaz Ukrainy, which hauls Russian and Turkmen gas to Europe through Ukraine and resells some gas it receives as transit payments, has guaranteed Eural's deliveries, the paper said.