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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Severstal Merger Talk



MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 2 steelmaker Severstal said it is negotiating a merger with an undisclosed company, Vremya Novostei reported.

To fulfill its strategy of higher liquidity, the company can take two routes, "either through an emission of ADRs or acquisitions and mergers," spokeswoman Olga Yezhova was quoted as saying.

The company's annual shareholders meeting on Saturday voted down the share emission, Yezhova said.

According to the report, Severstal could be negotiating its merger with the world's top steel giant, Luxembourg-based Arcelor, with which the company already has a joint venture, SeverGal.




Trade Secrets Defined



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The State Duma approved a bill on trade secrets in the first reading Friday.

The bill consolidates existing legislation on trade secrets, amending it to comply with World Trade Organization requirements.

The bill regulates the usage, protection, and definition of a trade secret and was prepared by the Industry, Science and Technology Ministry, along with the Nuclear Power Ministry, the State Technical Commission and the State Patent Office.




Public Worker Pay Hike



MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The government wants to hike 2003 spending by 10 billion rubles ($324 million) to finance a wage increase for public-sector employees, Interfax quoted a top government official as saying Friday.

"At its next meeting the Cabinet will consider a proposal for a wage increase in the public sphere by 33 percent in order to pass a corresponding draft to the State Duma," Interfax quoted Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin as telling President Vladimir Putin.

Kudrin said "the 2004 budget will have a special fund to support the payment of wages," Interfax reported.




Producer Prices Up



MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The producer price index rose 1.4 percent month on month in April after a 1.3 percent rise in March, the State Statistics Committee said Friday.

Producer prices rose 4.6 percent in the first four months of 2003 year on year, the committee said in a statement. Producer prices rose 2 percent in the January-April period of last year.




Currency Bill Debate



MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The State Duma may postpone debate on a bill aimed at scrapping many of the country's strict currency and capital controls, Alexander Zhukov, the head of the budget committee, said Friday.

The Duma was expected to start the second reading of the bill this week but pushed it back to June saying it wanted to look at President Vladimir Putin's amendments to the legislation.

"It is likely the bill will be read in the autumn; we probably won't get to it this session because of our busy agenda," Zhukov said.




TNK Pays Out $1.5Bln



MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- Oil holding TNK International paid its owners Alfa Group and Access/Renova $1.5 billion in dividends, according to the company's U.S. generally accepted accounting practices-standard report for 2002.

In April last year TNK International shareholders approved dividends of $1.38 billion based on 2001 results. The money was paid in the form of loans to firms affiliated to Alfa Group and Access/Renova.




Cyprus Off Black List?



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The Central Bank plans by the end of this year to remove Cyprus from the blacklist of offshore zones for which there are restrictions imposed on financial operations, First Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Ulyukayev told reporters Friday.

"In the nearest future, the bank is expected to study the Cypriot arguments for taking it off the blacklist," he said. "I think that it could be removed by the end of this year."




$80Bln for Kazakh Oil



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Kazakhstan plans to attract $80 billion in investments in the oil development sector within 15 years, according to the government's 2003-10 industrial and innovation development program.

The investments are expected to be spent primarily on the industrial and social infrastructure in order to support oil production. In particular, they would contribute to the development of the tourist industry.




Sakhalin Construction



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- U.S. oil company Exxon Neftegaz Ltd., the operator of the Sakhalin-1 project, has signed a $70 million construction contract with the U.S.-Russian Sakhalinmorneftemontazh Alaska Projects company, an Exxon Neftegaz spokesman said Friday.

The contract envisages construction works as part of the project to build an oil terminal and the coastal infrastructure of Sakhalin-1.




U.S. Titanium Venture



MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A joint venture between titanium maker VSMPO-AVISMA and U.S. metals firm Allegheny Technologies Inc. plans to reach an output target of 10,000 metric tons over the next four years, VSMPO said Friday.

Called Uniti, the U.S.-based joint venture set up in April will take orders starting June 1. VSMPO and Allegheny supply the commercial aerospace, military and medical equipment markets.




Pricing Palladium



TOKYO (Reuters) -- Russia's eagerness to restore faith in palladium as a key ingredient in pollution-control systems in cars could see it unleashing surplus stocks onto global markets, further pressuring prices, metals giant Angloplat said Friday.

Barry Davison, chairman and CEO of Anglo American Platinum, said Russia had been building up palladium stocks over the past 18 months, and could use them to stabilize the market at any sign of price volatility.

Wild price swings and erratic supplies from top producer Russia have made palladium the pariah of the platinum-group-metals world, prompting carmakers to resort to other metals in catalytic converters, which cleanse toxic emissions.




Blazing Baku-Ceyhan



TETRI-TSKARO, Georgia (AP) -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and ambassadors from the United States, Azerbaijan and Turkey on Friday inaugurated work on the Georgian stretch of the strategic Baku-Ceyhan pipeline that will pump oil from Azerbaijan to Western markets.

Shevardnadze cut the ribbon on the construction site near the town of Tetri-Tskaro, 50 kilometers south of Tbilisi.




FEC & Regional Power



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The State Duma approved in the first reading Friday a bill requiring regional energy commissions to coordinate their decisions with the Federal Energy Commission when setting tariffs for electric power and heat supplies in correspondent regions.

Earlier last week, Anatoly Aksakov, the deputy chairman of the Duma's economic policy and entrepreneurship committee, had told reporters that there is a possibility that in reality the FEC will only raise tariffs set by the regional commissions.




For the Record



The number of unemployed was 6.3 million people, or 8.9 percent of the workforce, at the end of April, down from 6.4 million in March, the State Statistics Committee said Friday. (Reuters)

The foreign trade surplus in January-March amounted to $15.18 billion, the State Statistics Committee reported Friday. In January-March last year, the foreign trade surplus amounted to $9.24 billion. (Prime-Tass)

Real disposable income rose 7.4 percent on the month and 11.4 percent on the year in April, the State Statistics Committee reported Friday. In January-April, Russians' real income rose 14.4 percent on the year. (Prime-Tass)

Retail trade turnover reached 1.36 trillion rubles ($44 billion) in January-April, up 8.9 percent on the year, the State Statistics Committee reported Friday. (Prime-Tass)

The concept of a single economic space between the European Union and Russia is expected to be devised in time for a Russia-EU summit this autumn, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko told reporters Friday. The concept would include energy cooperation between the EU and Russia, he said. (Prime-Tass)

The dairy and meat processing sector posted a 9.3 percent annual increase in January-April output, the State Statistics Committee said Friday. (Prime-Tass)

The Moscow-based ZiL truck manufacturer is considering supplying 1,500 trucks to North Korea, general director Konstantin Laptev said at the annual general meeting Friday. (Prime-Tass)

The ruble maintained its upward march Friday, rising to 30.7281 to the dollar, compared to 30.8085 Thursday. (Reuters)