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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Agricole, NRB Settle



PARIS (Reuters) -- The investment banking arm of French bank Credit Agricole and National Reserve Bank of Moscow have settled their long-standing dispute over currency contracts, the banks said Monday.

Credit Agricole Indosuez and NRB said in a brief statement they had "entered into an agreement to settle their disputes relating to non-deliverable forward currency contracts."

"The parties look forward to mutual collaboration in the Russian Federation," the statement added.

The dispute between the banks dates back to the Russian financial crisis of 1998.

NRB refused to honor about $110 million in ruble-dollar currency contracts concluded with Indosuez in the months leading up to the crisis, claiming they were fraudulent.

While many foreign banks wrote off similar losses after the collapse of the Russian financial system, Agricole was one of a number of western institutions that launched legal action to seek compensation. NRB responded with its own legal action.




Gref Still Out Sick



MOSCOW (MT) -- Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref has been advised by doctors "not to return to work after a vacation and he is still on sick leave," his Deputy Minister Alexander Maslov was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying Monday.

He said the minister would likely resume doing his official duties "in a few days, probably in a week."

"German Gref is in Moscow and he maintains contact with the office constantly," Maslov said.

Gref was on vacation from April 21 to May 11. Another deputy minister, Ivan Materov, filled in for Gref during the vacation.




$6.4M to Fight SARS



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The Railways Ministry is spending about 200 million rubles ($6.4 million) per month to prevent the possible spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, the director of the ministry's health department, Oleg Atkov, said Monday.

Atkov said staff and passengers on all trains from China and from Russia's Far East are thoroughly checked by special medical brigades upon arrival at their destinations.

Sanitary centers are now operating at all of the country's railroad stations, while railroad and city hospitals are prepared to admit people with symptoms of SARS for examination.

Trains are disinfected after each journey.

Meanwhile, the Railways Ministry has decided not to halt all train service from China, Atkov said.

The government is putting together a proposal on the temporary closure of a number of border checkpoints to prevent the spread of SARS.




China Flights Halted



KHABAROVSK, Far East (Prime-Tass) -- Russia's Dalavia airline has completely stopped flights from the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk to Harbin until June over fears of severe acute respiratory syndrome, the Khabarovsk region's press service said Monday.

This step is in accordance with a ruling by Governor Viktor Ishayev.

Dalavia had been operating Tu-154 flights to China twice a week.

Last year the airline carried 22,500 passengers on the Khabarovsk-Harbin route.




Debureaucratization



MOSCOW (MT) -- A "one-stop-shop" system for registering legal entities will be up and running from Jan. 1,, Deputy Economic Trade and Development Minister Alexander Maslov was quoted by Interfax as saying at a briefing Monday.

The law on registering legal entities came into effect July 1, but the single application procedure had not yet been fully implemented, he said.

Under present pensions and social insurance legislation, those who wish to register a company must file several separate applications with various government agencies.

Maslov said the ministry had prepared draft amendments to the Tax Code, the law on nonbudgetary funds and the law on registering legal entities. The draft is currently being finalized, Maslov said.

He added that the government will consider the ministry's proposals at a meeting Thursday on the debureaucratization of the economy.




$1.6Bln CB Profits



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Central Bank profits in 2002 stood at 49.885 billion rubles ($1.6 billion), up from 18.083 billion rubles ($583 million) in 2001, a source with the State Duma committee on credit organizations and stock markets said Monday, quoting a Central Bank financial report submitted to the Duma on April 30.

The source said the Central Bank's revenues stood at 112.776 billion rubles in 2002 and its spending stood at 62.891 billion rubles.




OPEC Head in Moscow



LONDON (Reuters) -- OPEC president Abdullah al-Attiyah, of Qatar, arrived in Russia on Monday ahead of next month's OPEC meeting, an OPEC source said.

OPEC has invited seven rival exporters, including Russia, Norway and Mexico, to attend its June 11 meeting in Doha, Qatar, at which ministers will discuss whether output cuts are needed to make room for the return of Iraq crude.

It is the first time non-OPEC countries have been invited to an extraordinary conference, raising speculation that the cartel may ask its rivals to join cuts.

While cuts from non-OPEC are thought unlikely with prices still near $25 a barrel, OPEC insiders are hoping at least for a commitment from their rivals to help support prices.

Norway already has turned down OPEC's invitation to Doha. Russia is expected to attend as an observer but has not decided yet what level of delegation to send.




SUAL Output Up 4.3%



MOSCOW (Reuters) -- No. 2 aluminum producer SUAL said Monday its seven smelters had increased output of the primary metal by 4.3 percent, or by 9,200 metric tons, in the first quarter of this year on the same period of 2002.

It said its Urals smelter had increased output in the first three months of this year by 12 percent over January-March 2002, its Irkutsk smelter by 4.3 percent, and its Bogoslovsk smelter by 4.2 percent.

Last year SUAL said its Urals, Irkutsk, Bogoslovsk and Kandalaksha smelters produced 151,700 tons of primary aluminum in the first quarter of 2002.




S&P Sees Ruble Bonds



LONDON (Reuters) -- More Russian local and regional governments are planning to issue ruble bonds this year, and transparency is improving, credit rating agency Standard & Poor's said Monday.

"The credit quality of most rated local and regional governments is improving, owing to growing economies and revenues, improving management systems, relatively low debt levels, and sound financial performance," S&P said in a report.

Creditworthiness, however, continues to be constrained by the low revenue flexibility due to central government controls, large infrastructure needs and, for many of them, significant exposure to a single taxpayer or industry.




MGTS Fee Hike



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Moscow's fixed-line operator MGTS will set its monthly subscription fee at 126 rubles as of July 1, up from 110 rubles for individuals and 125 rubles for entities, the company said Monday.

MGTS will hike the fee to 140 rubles as of Aug. 1, the statement said, though the monthly subscriber's fee for nonbudget organizations will remain unchanged at 165 rubles.

The Anti-Monopoly Ministry granted permission to MGTS to hike telephone tariffs in two stages on May 8.

In 2002, MGTS spending on serving its local network exceeded its revenues by 22 percent.

Increasing the fee will reduce the deficit to just 8 percent, the company said.




$60M in Turkmen Oil



ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (Prime-Tass) -- United Arab Emirates-British joint venture Dragon Oil plans to invest more than $60 million in oil production in Turkmenistan's sector of the Caspian Sea shelf this year and to increase its output by 10 percent to 550,000 metric tons, the chairman of Dragon Oil's board of directors, Hussain Sultan, said Monday during a meeting with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Last year, the company's investment in Turkmenistan totaled about $56 million.

Dragon Oil plans to extend its operations on the shelf this year by building a second floating oil rig by November, Sultan said.