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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

$3Bln LUKoil Plan

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (Prime-Tass) -- LUKoil plans to invest about $3 billion in exploratory works in Kazakhstan on the Caspian Sea shelf, the oil major's president Vagit Alekperov told a meeting of Kazakhstan's Council for Foreign Investment.

No specific terms for the investment were announced.

The decision is a result of the Kazakh government's "forward-looking policy that promotes foreign investment," Alekperov said, adding that LUKoil had already invested $1.5 billion in the Kazakh economy.

$3Bln Nuclear Market

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Nuclear exports will probably bring in $3 billion in revenue, Interfax reported Monday, citing an unidentified official from the Nuclear Power Ministry.

The country may get about $700 million this year for building nuclear generators for Iran, China and India, Interfax reported. That revenue may double in 2004.

The country also receives about $500 million per year by selling nuclear fuel and $450 million annually under an agreement with the United States covering enriched uranium, the news service said.

The government has rejected U.S. calls for it to stop building a nuclear reactor in Iran. The United States has accused Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons and has pushed the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency to declare that Iran has violated the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Nickel at 14-Year High

LONDON (Reuters) -- The price of nickel, used primarily to make stainless steel, rose sharply Monday on the London Metal Exchange to its highest level since May 1989 as a strong uptrend showed no signs of abating, dealers said.

On the LME, the world's largest nonferrous metals exchange, nickel traded at $13,020 per ton, up $220 from Friday's closing levels.

Over the past month, prices have risen by some $1,000, while the gain since midyear, when the bull market gathered pace, has been nearly $5,000.

Nickel's main end-use, some two-thirds of consumption, is in stainless-steel, and this sector is currently strong.

Stocks have risen from March's 18-month lows of 13,260 tons partly because of the demand but also due to metal being decollateralized and warranted by producer Norilsk Nickel in late summer.

Troika Owners to Sell

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Alexander Mamut, Valentin Zavadnikov and Andrei Rappoport are in talks to sell their stakes in Troika Dialog to a group of shareholders headed by the company's president, Ruben Vardanian, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Mamut, a board member of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, owns 3 percent of the investment bank, while Zavadnikov, a senator, and Rappoport, deputy CEO of Unified Energy Systems, each own 1 percent, according to Vedomosti.

Under a pending buyout of the Bank of Moscow's 81 percent stake in Troika, however, Mamut's stake will increase to 10 percent and Zavadnikov's and Rappoport's to 5 percent each.

Vedomosti quoted a source close to one of the three shareholders as saying they decided to sell the stakes because of disagreements with Vardanian over the company's business policy.

GDP Revision

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Gross domestic product grew 6.6 percent on the year in January to September, according to the latest calculations by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, Itar-Tass quoted Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref as saying during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin and other key ministers Monday.

Earlier, the ministry said the GDP growth amounted to 6.5 percent in the period.

The ministry forecasts GDP growth at 6.6 percent for the whole of the year, compared with 4.3 percent in 2002.

Gref also said that the ministry expects to hit a 12 percent inflation target for the year. He said there is a possibility that the figure will be higher "but not by much."

Foreign Trade Law

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed into law a bill on government regulations in foreign trade, Itar-Tass said, quoting Putin, who was speaking at his regular Monday meeting with key ministers.

He said that this bill "will bring Russian legislation into line with World Trade Organization standards."

"This harmonizes our legislation with that of other countries," he added.

Finnish Import Growth

HELSINKI, Finland (Reuters) -- Finland's exports to Russia will grow at a steady clip in the near future, and even in the most pessimistic scenario they will not collapse as they did in previous crises, Finnish think tank ETLA said Monday.

The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, or ETLA, said in a study that Finnish exports to Russia are expected to grow by 8 percent yearly in 2004-2010.

The forecast assumes average Russian gross domestic product growth of 4 percent annually, and excludes the impact of oil prices and currency rates.

It would mean Russia's stake in Finnish exports would grow to 9 to 10 percent by 2010 from 6.6 percent in 2002, making Russia one of Finland's most important export countries. The current leader is Germany, which takes 11.8 percent of Finnish exports.

Finland was rocked twice in the 1990s by the political and economic instability of its eastern neighbor, suffering through a painful recession when the Soviet Union collapsed and taking another blow when Russia devalued the ruble.

ETLA research manager Markku Kotilainen said that preliminary results from the State Duma parliamentary election Sunday, won by United Russia, were likely to mean an increase in predictability.

Rail Cargo Up 10%

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Railway cargo traffic rose 10.1 percent on the year to 1.52 billion ton-kilometers in January to November, Russian Railways said in a statement Monday.

The country's railway passenger turnover increased 2.5 percent on the year in the period to 145.4 billion passenger-kilometers, the company said.

The cargo traffic on the country's railways amounted to 1.61 billion tons in January to November, up 7 percent on the year, while passenger traffic stood at 1.2 billion people, up 2.3 percent on the year.

In November, the equivalent figures were 99.7 million tons, up 5.8 percent on the year, and 103 million passengers, up 6.8 percent on the year, respectively.