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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Berezovsky to File Suit

MOSCOW (MT) -- Boris Berezovsky wants to sue the government for $1 billion for the alleged appropriation of his assets in the media, oil and mining industries, the Financial Times reported Saturday.

Berezovsky told the FT that his lawyers were preparing claims in Britain's High Court and the European Court of Human Rights. He said he was forced into selling his stakes in ORT and TV6, as well as Sibneft, after he fell out with President Vladimir Putin. He accused the Russian government of trying to take control of companies from businessmen who are critical of the Kremlin.

"We will go to the British courts for compensation and be ready to present in the European Court [of Human Rights] not later than February," he said.

Storm Over Megafon

LONDON (Reuters) -- IPOC, a Bermuda-based investment fund battling to stake a claim on a 25.1 percent holding in Megafon, last week warned a co-investor against declaring a shareholder pact invalid.

Roland Bopp, the general manager of IPOC Capital Partners, said that Alfa Group's attempts to declare the Megafon shareholder agreement null and void could be the first step in sidelining IPOC and taking control of the booming cellular operator.

"We have said from the outset of our legal actions against Alfa that we believe the integrity of contracts with Russian companies is at stake," said Bopp during a London visit.

In a battle that has been taken to courts in the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Geneva, IPOC is fighting for a legal claim over the Megafon stake, for which it says it paid some $74 million in transfers and loans over two years.

BA's Presence Grows

ST. PETERSBURG (Prime-Tass) -- British Airways plans to increase the number of flights to St. Petersburg from five to seven per week, Daniel Burkard, the company's commercial director for Eastern Europe said at a press conference Friday.

The company is also considering introducing morning flights from Moscow's Domodedovo airport, he said.

This year BA has invested about $1 million in Russia, Burkard said. The company's passenger traffic in the country rose 17% in September to November.

BA also plans to sign bilateral agreements on cooperation with the airlines Ankor, Samara and Domodedovo. Under these agreements, the airlines will be able to sell tickets for BA, while their flights will be available in British Airways' 150 branches around the world, Burkard said.

BA has already signed similar agreements with KrasAir, Transaero and YuTair.

BA is also planning to introduce a new flight from London to Yekaterinburg next year.

$100M for Drink Plant

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Vision International People Group plans to build a $100 million plant in the Moscow region to produce various types of drinks ranging from drinking water to juices and milk, a company official said Friday.

The plant will have a capacity of 20 million dekaliters per year.

The first stage of the plant is expected to be launched in 2004 and will produce water and other drinks.

The plant will later start producing juices and milk.

Grain Exports Go On

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- There are no immediate plans to limit grain exports to prevent a domestic shortage, although such measures might be taken if shipments increased sharply, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Friday.

"We are not talking about any urgent measures," Gordeyev told reporters when asked whether Russia, like neighboring Kazakhstan, planned any grain export restrictions.

But he added that if exports rose to 5 million tons from the current 4 million, the government might impose curbs.

Analysts say Russia may have already exported 5 million tons. Official statistics for the period between July and December 2003 are not yet available.

Prices Rise 1%

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Consumer prices rose 1 percent in November as prices for eggs and dairy products including milk surged more than 5 percent.

Consumer prices gained 1 percent in November from October, the State Statistics Committee said. Prices rose 10.8 percent in the first 11 months.

The government wants to cut inflation to 12 percent this year from 15.1 percent in 2002. The country, which has cut the rate since it topped 2,600 percent in 1992, has not met its full-year target since 1997.

UAZ Production Up

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The car output of the Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant, or UAZ, totaled 69,384 vehicles in January to November, up from 63,309 cars in the same period last year, the company said Friday.

The output was worth 9.6 billion rubles ($323 million). The company exported 13,273 cars, up 66.7 percent on the year. In November, 7,149 cars were exported.

UAZ produces four-wheel-drive cars and sport utility vehicles.

The plant recently started production on the new UAZ-Hunter SUV. The new vehicle will replace the old UAZ-3151, on which it is based.

Duties Set to Be Lifted

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The government plans to start lifting duties on high-tech equipment imports in order to facilitate the modernization of fixed assets, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Alyoshin told reporters Friday.

"This is an urgent issue and we will be lifting duties when it comes to upgrading facilities," Itar-Tass quoted Alyoshin as saying.

Alyoshin said the issue of establishing a single aircraft-building company to produce both military and civilian aircraft will be tackled by the end of December.

Oil License Granted

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Oil major Surgutneftegaz has received a temporary license to develop the central block of the Talakanskoye oil and gas condensate field, the Natural Resources Ministry said Friday.

The temporary license, issued for a one-year period or until the auction for the license is held, was awarded to Surgutneftegaz on Oct. 31.

But the company has been delaying the signing of the license.

Late last month, Vedomosti reported that the company asked the Sakha regional arbitration court for a permanent license to develop the field. This was reported as the reason why the company did not sign its license.

TNK Sale a 'Misprint'

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) --TNK International, the parent company of oil major Tyumen Oil Company , or TNK, retained a 10 percent stake in its Ukrainian subsidiary, trading house TNK-Ukraine, having mistakenly reported the sale of 100 percent in its January-June U.S. GAAP financials, Vedomosti reported Friday.

In its report, TNK International said it sold 100 percent in TNK-Ukraine to the latter company's management but in fact, only 90 percent was sold, while the remaining 10 percent is now owned by TNK-BP, the Russian-British oil major that incorporates all TNK's assets and all Russian assets of BP.

A TNK-BP representative told Vedomosti that the mistake is more of "a misprint" and occurred because the company did not have enough time to prepare the financial report properly.