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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Budget Surplus Surge

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The budget surplus, boosted by high oil prices and lower debt payments, surged in the first four months of the year, according to preliminary data released Thursday.

A Finance Ministry official said the surplus hit 31.7 billion rubles ($1 billion), or 0.8 percent of gross domestic product. That compares with a 1.95 billion ruble surplus, or 0.1 percent of GDP, in January-March.

The primary surplus, which excludes foreign debt payments, amounted to 121.3 billion rubles, or 3.2 percent of GDP, he added.

Yukos Buyout Terms

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Yukos on Thursday confirmed it will offer to buy out investors at $9.35 per share if they disagree with its planned merger with Sibneft announced last month.

In an agenda for a May 27 extraordinary general meeting on the merger, Yukos said minority shareholders could request a buyout or participate in the new issue on a pro rata basis.

The agenda also said Yukos could borrow $3 billion to pay for 20 percent of Sibneft and issue an extra 1 billion ordinary shares to facilitate a swap.

Yukos and Sibneft, the country's second and fifth largest oil companies, said last month they would merge to create the world's fourth largest oil company.

The transaction includes $3 billion in cash plus a complex equity swap. The merger will be the biggest in Russian corporate history and is valued by some analysts at around $12 billion. The merged company, to be called Yukos-Sibneft, will have a combined market value of around $35 billion.

OPEC Invitation

LONDON (Reuters) -- OPEC said Friday it has invited seven rival exporters, including Russia, Norway and Mexico, to attend its June 11 meeting in Doha, Qatar, at which ministers are expected to discuss output cuts to make room for Iraq.

A spokesman for OPEC at its Vienna headquarters said it was the first time non-OPEC countries had been invited to an extraordinary conference.

Jet Deal 65% Palm Oil

JAKARTA, Indonesia (Reuters) -- Palm oil will account for around 65 percent of a $192.9 million countertrade deal between Indonesia and Russia, the chairman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association said Friday.

Indonesia last month signed a countertrade agreement with Russia to obtain four fighter jets and a pair of helicopters in exchange for 30 different kinds of commodities.

Chairman Derom Bangun said the 65 percent share will be around 300,000 tons valued at $108 million with delivery to be completed by October 2004.

TNK Reserves Rise 15%

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- No. 3 oil firm TNK, in which oil major BP is taking a 50 percent stake, said Thursday a revision of its proven oil reserves showed a 15.4 percent increase to 8.37 billion barrels as of this past January.

A statement by auditor Miller & Lents, published on the TNK web site, said proven gas reserves were also up at 120 million cubic meters from 107 million in January 2002.

TNK disclosed its new reserves figure after similar moves by its domestic rivals Yukos-Sibneft and LUKoil.

Long-Distance Fees

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The Anti-Monopoly Ministry has decided to reduce charges for peak-hour long-distance telephone calls for fixed-line providers and raise off-peak tariffs, the ministry said Thursday.

The tariffs will be changed for Center Telecom, Uraltelecom, Rostelecom and the Moscow City Telephone Network, or MGTS, as early as May 15.

The measures are meant to unify long-distance fees charged by different providers and reduce discounts for off-peak periods.

Tariffs for distances of more than 3,000 kilometers will be set at 7.2 rubles, a cut of between 2 rubles and 8 rubles.

Fixed, Mobile Parity

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Fixed-line and mobile phone networks will develop at an equal rate in Russia, Communications Minister Leonid Reiman said at a news conference Thursday.

He said the fixed-line phone network should be developed up to the level of 50 phones per 100 people and the mobile network to the level of 60 to 70 phones per 100 people.

For the Record

The value of gold reserves held by the Central Bank was $3.736 billion on May 1, $1 million up from $3.735 billion on April 1, the bank said in a statement Thursday. (Reuters)

The country's foreign trade surplus rose to $5.62 billion in March from $4.63 billion in February, the Central Bank said Thursday. (Reuters)

Diamond giant Alrosa sold $394 million worth of diamonds in the first quarter, almost 44 percent more than in the same period last year, Interfax reported. In the first quarter, Alrosa exceeded the plan for extraction and sales of diamonds by 2 percent, its president, Vladimir Kalitin, said in an interview to be published in the May 12 edition of Profil magazine. (MT)

Fruit juice and dairy product manufacturer Wimm-Bill-Dann has sold bonds worth $150 million, UBS Warburg said Thursday. (Prime-Tass)

MDM Group is planning to issue a $150 million five-year eurobond, Alex Kochergin, MDM director of international business development, said Thursday. (Reuters)