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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

$380M TNK Suit

MOSCOW (MT) -- A court in the British Virgin Islands has authorized the seizure of assets of oil major TNK worth $380 million to satisfy the demands of minority shareholders,

Tyumen Industrial Holdings Ltd., a holding company of TNK, said Monday it would contest the lawsuit, Dow Jones reported.

"We will fight them in courts," TNK Industrial spokeswoman Marina Dracheva was quoted by the news agency as saying.

The shareholders -- British Virgin Islands-based Astian Group Ltd. and Seychelles-based Indian Ocean Petroleum Services Ltd. -- claim that TNK Industrial, between 2000 and 2002, "deliberately and unlawfully" purchased crude oil and refined oil from two subsidiary companies at below-market prices, Dow Jones reported.

Both subsidiaries, Saratovneftegaz and the Saratov Refinery, are units of Sidanco, a Russian oil company 57 percent-owned by TNK Industrial.

SUAL Stake for FF&P

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Britain's Fleming Family and Partners, or FF&P, has bought a 5 percent stake in Russia's second biggest aluminum producer SUAL, one of the metal company's owners was quoted as saying Tuesday.

"The first stage of the deal has already been completed," Viktor Vekselberg, SUAL's co-owner and board chairman, told Vedomosti.

SUAL International, an offshore company, owns 21 SUAL enterprises involved in the aluminum business. SUAL International is itself majority owned by Renova, in which Vekselberg has a controlling stake, Vedomosti said.

In January SUAL and FF&P, a private group owned by Scotland's Fleming family banking dynasty, announced they were setting up SUAL International, bringing together SUAL's interests and FF&P's ferro-nickel plant in Cuba and tantalum project in Mozambique.

First Bonduelle Factory

KRASNODAR, Southern Russia (Prime-Tass) -- France's Bonduelle, one of the world's leading producers of canned and frozen fruit and vegetables, launched the construction of its first factory in Russia on Tuesday in the southern Krasnodar region.

The cost of the factory is 30 million euros ($34.8 million), the company said.

The factory, based in the village of Novotitorovskaya, 15 kilometers from Krasnodar, will produce 60,000 tons of canned peas and corn per year.

$900M Sberbank Loan

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- State-owned bank Sberbank and oil pipeline monopoly Transneft have signed an agreement of intent envisaging total loans worth $900 million, Andrei Kazmin, Sberbank's chairman, told reporters Tuesday.

Under the agreement, Sberbank has already opened a 10 billion ruble ($326 million) credit line to Transneft for five years, with a possible increase to 16.8 billion rubles by the end of this year.

In 2001, Sberbank provided Transneft with a three-year, 5.5 billion ruble loan, Kazmin added.

He said the current project on financing the Baltic Pipeline System is the largest investment project in Russia and is the major investment project for the whole domestic banking system.

Earlier Tuesday, Transneft president Semyon Vainshtok said Transneft planned to take out a $350 million loan from Sberbank soon.

ICN Sale on Horizon

MOSCOW (MT) -- ICN Russia, a unit of ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., is likely to be sold by the end of the week, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

Alfa Bank, ICN's consultant, shortlisted three bidders Monday: ICN Russia's general director John Ortega, leading drug chain 36.6 and top pharmaceutical distributor Protek.

Kommersant said Ortega's bid would come in collaboration with investment fund Russian Investors, created by oil major Yukos. ICN Russia owns five plants and 96 drug stores.

Vimpelcom Leases Grid

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 2 cellular operator Vimpelcom will sell its D-AMPS network to Moscow-based Corbina Telecom, Vedomosti reported.

Corbina, a fixed-line digital phone service provider, will pay $19.8 million by the end of this year and another $4 million by the end of 2007.

Vimpelcom holds the license for the D-AMPS network until 2007, but will lease it to Corbina in the meantime.

MDM Board Seats

MOSCOW (MT) -- MDM Group on Monday won four seats on the board of Kuzbassenergo, where it owns 36 percent, Vedomosti reported Tuesday.

MDM holds the country's largest concentration of coal mining assets.

Kuzbassenergo, 49 percent-owned by Unified Energy Systems, is based in the Kemerovo region. Two of MDM's owners, Andrei Melnichenko and Sergei Popov, were elected to the UES board last Friday.

Vedomosti reported that MDM has consolidated share stakes in some 40 regional utilities -- all units of UES -- and will get seats on the board at 10 of them in the near future.

More Sakhalin Deals?

TOKYO (Reuters) -- The chairman of Royal/Dutch Shell Group said Tuesday that advanced talks were under way for further sales of liquefied natural gas from the Shell-led Sakhalin II project in the Far East.

The Sakhalin II project recently signed contracts to supply a combined total of about 2.3 million metric tons per year of LNG to Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. and Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc.

"We are expecting other announcements in the foreseeable future," chairman Philip Watts told reporters.

Nickel Output Hike

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Norilsk Nickel will produce 235,000 metric tons of nickel in 2003 while copper production will be unchanged at 454,000 tons, deputy chief executive Leonid Rozhetskin said at a conference Tuesday.

"The world finds itself with a shortage of nickel," Rozhetskin said. "And Norilsk Nickel as a responsible supplier will increase nickel production. We will go from 220,000 tons to 235,000 tons this year."

Last year Norilsk produced 218,000 tons of nickel.

The company is the world's largest producer of nickel and platinum group metal palladium.

Uzbek-Korean Cars

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- UzDaewooAvto, a car manufacturing joint venture between South Korea's Daewoo Motors and Uzbek automobile association Uzavtosanoat, expects its Russian sales to increase 35 percent on the year in 2003 to 16,760 cars, the head of UzDaewooAvto's exclusive dealer in Russia told reporters Tuesday.

Quin Group general director Lenur Islyamov said UzDaewooAvto plans to sell over 10,700 Nexia cars and 6,000 Matiz vehicles.

TNK Eyes East Europe

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- No. 3 oil firm TNK, in which BP is taking a 50 percent share, is eyeing new assets in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, TNK's chairman was quoted as saying Tuesday.

"We are considering the possibility of buying new assets in Ukraine, including sales networks and refineries," Viktor Vekselberg told Vedomosti.

"Our second priority is assets in Eastern Europe, including [Serbian filling station chain] Beopetrol. And we think that TNK-BP will have certain advantages at privatization tenders in the region compared with other Russian companies."

TNK, one of Russia's fastest growing companies, has previously said it wants to acquire Czech petrochemimal firm Unipetrol.