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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

CB Clarifies Cash Law

MOSCOW (MT) -- Non-resident legal entities and individuals may transfer foreign currency, including money acquired in Russia, out of the country, the Central Bank announced Monday in a statement posted on its web site.

The Central Bank issued the statement to clarify amendments to the currency law, which took effect March 15.

The amendments made no mention of foreign legal entities and omitted mention of individuals' right to export foreign currency acquired in Russia, placing the legality of such operations in limbo.

Several banks had ceased performing such operations, saying Central Bank representatives had recommended holding off until a clarification could be made.

Oil to Aid Tax Cuts

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Reducing the value-added tax and the unified social tax in 2004 would be possible if the country's financial reserve reached 250 billion to 300 billion rubles ($7.9 billion to $9.5 billion) by the end of this year, Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Arkady Dvorkovich told reporters Monday.

Such reserves could be achieved if the price for Urals blend crude averages $27 per barrel, or if the country's privatization program goes well, he said.

Russia's financial reserve stood at 205.9 billion rubles ($6.6 billion) as of Jan. 1, 2003 and was originally to total 42 billion rubles ($1.4 billion) by the end of this year.

Last week, First Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said the Finance Ministry plans to raise its forecast on the amount of Russia's financial reserve by the end of this year due to high oil prices.

Tatneft Looks to Iraq

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 6 oil major Tatneft plans to secure contracts to rehabilitate Iraq's oil and gas industry, Interfax reported Monday.

"Naturally, we will participate in the restoration of the Iraqi oil and gas complex," said Vildan Nagumanov, Tatneft's first deputy general director. "We plan to receive contracts independently and through Zarubezhneft," Nagumanov said, referring to a state-owned firm that represents the Russian government's interests in oil projects abroad.

Tatneft has signed two drilling contracts with Iraq in past years. The UN Security Council in 2000 approved a contract to drill 45 wells. Tatneft employees had drilled 33 wells before they were recalled to Russia earlier this month. No progress had been made on the second contract for 15 wells, which was signed in November with Iraq's South Oil Co., a Tatneft spokeswoman said.

Vodka Seized in Spat

MOSCOW (MT) -- At the request of fugitive vodka tycoon Yuri Shefler, a court in the Netherlands ruled last week that 10,000 bottles of Moskovskaya vodka produced by order of the Russian government are counterfeit, and it issued an order for their arrest.

The vodka has been impounded in Rotterdam since late February. State company Soyuzplodoimport shipped the vodka to Europe at the same time that it filed lawsuits challenging Shefler's trademark rights to the Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya brands in the three Benelux countries.

At present, all international rights to the trademarks belong to Shefler's SPI Group and form the cornerstone of a vodka exporting empire worth about $680 million per year.

MTS to List in Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's top cellular operator, Mobile TeleSystems, said Monday it would apply for a full listing in Russia in addition to its listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

"MTS will take all necessary steps to the extent required under Russian legislation to obtain as soon as practicable, but no later than Sept. 30, a listing of MTS's shares on a Russian stock exchange," the company statement said.

MTS said it was seeking the listing to facilitate Deutsche Telecom's plan to sell a 5 percent chunk of its 40 percent stake in MTS on the open market.

Regional-Brand Baltika

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 1 beer maker Baltika said Monday it expects that the four regional brands it launched earlier this month will yield total annual sales of 800,000 liters, Dow Jones reported.

A Baltika spokeswoman didn't quantify the company's investment in the new brands, but said it was minimal.

"We will use cheap labels, the bottles are not expensive and there will be no special advertising campaign," the spokeswoman said.

The new brands will be called Krasnoyarsk, Krasnodar, Tyumen and Sverdlovsk, after the cities where they will be marketed.

Bank Liquidity Falls

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Banks' balances in their correspondent accounts at the Central Bank fell to 88.5 billion rubles ($2.8 billion) on Monday from 90.5 billion the previous session, the Central Bank said.

Moscow region banks' balances at the Central Bank fell to 52.6 billion rubles ($1.67 billion) from 54.9 billion rubles. Correspondent account balances are an indicator of Russian banks' liquidity.

Shakh-Deniz Put Off

BAKU, Azerbaijan (Prime-Tass) -- The official ceremony of signing an agreement to begin the implementation of the Shakh-Deniz gas project, originally scheduled to take place this Friday, has been postponed due to the war in Iraq, Itar-Tass quoted a BP Azerbaijan official as saying Monday.

BP is the project's operator, holding a 25.5 percent stake in the project.

Natural gas produced at the Shakh-Deniz offshore gas and gas condensate field on the Caspian Sea shelf would travel by pipeline through these three countries.

Machinery Share Issue

MOSCOW (MT) -- The country's largest maker of power-generation machinery, Energomashexport Power Machines, said Monday that it has concluded an additional share issue and reform of company's holding structure, Dow Jones reported.

In a statement, Power Machines said it has issued 22,125 new shares, adding to the existing 62,000 shares.

The Interros holding now owns 94.27 percent of Power Machines, while Germany's Siemens AG owns 4.93 percent.

AvtoVAZ Recalls 900

MOSCOW (MT) -- The country's leading automaker, AvtoVAZ, recalled 900 cars produced in early March because of a faulty bolt in the cars' steering column, the company said Saturday.

AvtoVAZ issued a press release saying the company would pay for the replacement of the faulty part on the vehicles, which included a range of classic Ladas and the Niva 4x4.

"Most of them are still with the dealers," the press release said.

The company said it sent out the serial numbers of the vehicles concerned to all of its service centers who are required to replace the bolts.

Pulkovo Traffic Rises

ST. PETERSBURG (Prime-Tass) -- The passenger traffic of St. Petersburg-based Pulkovo Airlines rose to 359,182 people in January-February, up 12.8 percent on the year, the company's press service said Monday.

Spring Sowing Delayed

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia has sown just 60,000 hectares for spring crops so far, 10 percent of the 600,000 hectares sown by the same date last year, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev was quoted as saying Monday.

News agencies quoted Gordeyev as telling President Vladimir Putin the decline had resulted from a two week delay in the start of the spring sowing campaign due to cold weather.