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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

CB: Inflation Falls

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Central Bank sees consumer price inflation at 1.7 percent to 1.8 percent in February, down from 2.4 percent the month before, Interfax said Monday.

Consumer prices rose 1.2 percent last February, month-on-month.

Bank Reserves Debate

MOSCOW (MT) -- The government and Central Bank are at odds over the amount of money commercial banks need to keep on reserve accounts at the Central Bank, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Currently, banks are required to form reserves equal to 7 percent of all ruble deposits from individuals and 10 percent of ruble deposits from companies. For foreign currencies, the reserve requirement is 10 percent for both individual and corporate deposits.

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry has suggested halving all the current rates, Vedomosti reported.

The Central Bank, however, opposes the initiative, fearing it would lead to an inflationary increase in money supply.

Gas Output Climbs

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Gazprom boosted gas output in January-February to 94.98 billion cubic meters from 92.61 bcm in 2002, Energy Ministry sources said Monday.

Russia's total gas output rose to 108.12 bcm in January-February 2003 from 105.47 bcm in 2002. Major oil firms produced 6.73 bcm while medium-sized gas firms, including gas trader Itera, produced 6.41 bcm.

Railway Bill Signed

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill on management of railway property, part of the government's package of railway reform bills, Itar-Tass reported Monday.

The Federation Council approved the bill on Feb. 12, while the State Duma approved the bill, which had been amended Feb. 7 by a conciliatory commission set up after the Federation Council rejected it in December.

The bill lays down the privatization procedure for the railroad system, which will eventually lead to the establishment of the Russian Railways joint stock company. The government will control 100 percent of Russian Railways.

Gazprom in Bulgaria

SOFIA, Bulgaria (Prime-Tass) --Gazprom, the main supplier of natural gas to Bulgaria, will take part in the privatization of the gas distribution system of Bulgaria's state-owned gas company Bulgargaz, President Vladimir Putin said Monday.

Putin is in Bulgaria on an official visit.

He noted that Gazprom is also prepared to increase its natural gas transit via Bulgaria to other Balkan nations to 18 billion cubic meters from 12 billion cubic meters now.

Gazprom is ready to invest $50 million in developing Bulgaria's gas distribution system and Moscow is ready to grant Bulgaria a $150 million loan, Putin said.

Surgut Eyes Refinery

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 3 oil major Surgutneftegaz has expressed interest in acquiring Slavneft's Yaroslavl refinery, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Surgutneftegaz officials visited the refinery site last week in search of outlets for its oil due to its limited refining capacity.

Oil majors Sibneft and the Tyumen Oil Co. jointly bought Slavneft for $1.86 billion at a privatization auction last year. The two companies are having difficulties deciding how to split up the new asset and could be convinced to sell part of it for the right price, Dow Jones quoted analysts as saying.

Patent Agency Loan

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The government is seeking a 25.2 million euro ($27.43 million) investment loan from a number of German banks to finance the purchase of hardware and software for patent agency Rospatent, the governmental press service reported Monday.

The federal budget is to finance all advance payments, payments on the principle debt and its servicing, as well as all customs payments on equipment bought under the loan.

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry has been tasked with monitoring the terms of all the contracts, which are financed by the loan.

Rospatent is required to provide quarterly and annual reports to the ministry on its spending of the loan.

Iraq Energy Partnership

MOSCOW (MT) -- Tekhnopromexport, a top power engineering construction company, is continuing to build power plants in Iraq, its deputy chairman Andrei Klimenko was quoted by Interfax as saying.

"Work on power engineering projects under construction in Iraq has not been frozen so far, but there is 100 percent readiness by the company for full evacuation of all Russian specialists if large-scale hostilities begin," he said.

Klimenko said more than 400 Russian specialists are currently working at power plants under construction.

Tekhnopromeksport is building a steam power plant with a capacity of 400 megawatts in Harthar, and one with a 1,680 megawatt capacity in Yusufiyah.

Uralsvyazinform Listing

MOSCOW (MT) -- Regional telecommunications company Uralsvyazinform JSC is likely to switch its planned international listing to London from New York due to concerns over costs and regulation, the Financial Times reported.

Vladimir Rybakin, Uralsvyazinform's general director, was quoted as saying that the listing of up to 11 percent of the Urals-based company's shares would take place in London because the New York Stock Exchange was "very expensive," Dow Jones reported.

$88M Tanker Deal

MOSCOW (MT) -- With oil fever growing ahead of a possible attack on Iraq, Russia's part-privatized Sovcomflot is reported to have bought two modern suezmax tankers, in an investment totaling around $88 million, Lloyds List said Monday.

Sources said the powerful shipping group will take on the 1998-built Atlantis and Kimolos, charter-free.

Sovcomflot has been consistently active in ship sale and purchase for some time, and will be a key bidder in contracts to be awarded when the first oil starts to flow from the Sakhalin offshore fields in the Pacific.

Kinross to Spend $45M

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- Canadian mining firm Kinross said it will spend $45 million to increase its share in the Omolon gold venture to a 100 percent stake by buying out minority shareholders.

At the end of last year, Kinross owned only 54.7 percent of Omolon, which is developing the Kubaka mine, one of the largest gold deposits in the Magadan region.

Omolon's Russian minority shareholders had bought their stake under the so-called gold loan issued in 1994 by the Finance Ministry under guarantee from the Magadan regional administration.

Kinross is the seventh-largest gold mining company in the world, extracting 64 metric tons of gold last year.

For the Record

Russian and Chinese railroad officials met in Harbin to discuss prospects for the construction of a railroad between Ussuriisk in Primorye and Dongning in China's Heilongjiang province, the Far Eastern railroad press service told Itar-Tass on Sunday. (MT)

Top juice and dairy firm Wimm-Bill-Dann increased combined sales of juice and dairy products by 21.2 percent in 2002, the firm said Monday. (Reuters)

AvtoVAZ, the country's largest car producer, reintroduced an eight-hour shift system on all its assembly lines as of Monday, the company said Monday. (Prime-Tass)

Total assets under management in Troika Dialog's Ilia Muromets, Dobrynia Nikitich, Druzhina and Sadko open mutual funds topped 1 billion rubles ($31.6 million) as of March 3, 2003, the company said Monday. (MT)

Polyus, the country's largest gold producer, plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years in expanding production, Polyus board chairman Valery Rudakov said Monday in an interview with Vedomosti. (MT)

The country's number of cellular subscribers reached 20.15 million in February, over 1 million more than in January, ACM Consulting said Monday in a report. (MT)