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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Sephora on the Way?

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Sephora, a unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world's largest luxury-goods company, is in talks to buy a Russian cosmetics chain as it expands in Eastern Europe, Vedomosti reported.

Sephora, a Paris-based perfume business, is discussing the acquisition of L'Etoile, Russia's largest cosmetics chain in terms of stores, the newspaper said, citing L'Etoile's owner Maxim Klimov. If the purchase goes ahead, Sephora may use L'Etoile's network to create a new operation in Russia.

Moscow-based L'Etoile has 101 stores in the city and also owns outlets in the country's other major cities. The company's sales totaled $90 million last year, Vedomosti said, citing L'Etoile officials.

Douglas Holding AG, Europe's biggest cosmetics retailer, has also announced plans to expand in Russia by creating a joint venture with Russian chain Rivoli, Klimov told the paper.

Titanium King IPO

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Vsmpo-Avisma Group, Europe's top titanium producer, plans to sell as much as 27 percent of its stock at an initial public offering on foreign exchanges, Vedomosti said, citing a deputy general director at the company.

Moscow-based Troika Dialog brokerage will advise on the sale, the paper said, citing Vsmpo-Avisma deputy general director Vyacheslav Bresht. The company also plans to hire an international auditor to prepare financial reports to U.S. generally accepted accounting principles for 2002-03, the paper said.

Allegheny Technologies Inc., the top U.S. specialty metals maker, and Vsmpo-Avisma in April announced a venture to sell titanium for use outside the aviation and space industries. Vsmpo-Avisma expects to raise output by a fifth to about 18,000 tons in two years.

LUKoil-Sibur Plant

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 2 oil producer LUKoil, together with Gazprom's petrochemical subsidiary, have agreed to build a gas-turbine power plant in a move to cut electricity consumption costs, Dow Jones reported Tuesday.

LUKoil's electricity-purchasing subsidiary and petrochemical holding Sibur signed a memorandum of intention to build a plant near Nizhny Novgorod, according to a company statement.

Neither a time period for construction nor the cost of the plant was disclosed.

LUKoil and Sibur are the largest consumers of heat and electricity in the region. The project's internal rate of return is estimated at 20 percent.

The policy of Nizhnovenergo, a regional subsidiary of Unified Energy Systems, to subsidize households by hiking tariffs on industrial consumers has forced an increase in costs, LUKoil said.

Gazprom Goes Chinese

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Gazprom said Monday its board had given the go-ahead for the creation of an offshoot company to allow it to take part in an $18 billion West-East multinational joint venture in China.

West-East Pipeline Project Investment BV will be registered in the Netherlands and will help build a 4,000 kilometer trunkline spanning China from west to east.

Gazprom, China's PetroChina, Royal Dutch/Shell and ExxonMobil will set up a gas transportation company and a unified trade firm to develop gas deposits and pump gas from China's west to east.

Companies involved in the West-East project will acquire gas on production-sharing agreement terms.

The pipeline will become operational by the end of 2003 and by 2007 it will pump at full capacity of 12 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The volume could eventually be increased to an annual 20 bcm.

TNK Gas to Belarus

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Tyumen Oil Co., which is merging its assets with BP PLC's Russian business, plans to start supplying natural gas to Belarus by September, Kommersant said, citing Dmitry Annyuk, a deputy general director at the country's state gas pipeline company.

TNK will sell 250 million cubic meters of gas to Belarus this year for $9.3 million, the newspaper said. Belarus will pay $37 per 1,000 cubic meters for the gas, $8 more than the country pays Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, and $5 less than it pays Itera, Russia's No. 2 producer last year.

NIKoil Energo Stake

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- NIKoil Group, an investment bank, has bought 10 percent of Astrakhanenergo, a unit of national power utility Unified Energy Systems, Vedomosti reported.

NIKoil has called for an extraordinary shareholders' meeting and is seeking to put its representatives on the utility's board, the paper said, citing Astrakhanenergo general director Mikhail Stolyarov.

NIKoil was one of two investors that bought 30 percent of Astrakhanenergo between them, Vedomosti said, citing an unidentified official close to the utility's board.

Africa Wants Russians

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe, suffering a food shortage and facing diplomatic sanctions from the United States and European Union, is trying to attract Russian-speaking tourists as visitors from the West dwindle, the Zimbabwe Standard weekly reported.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has hired a film crew from Extreme TV, a Russian travel television program, to develop footage of the country's tourist destinations, the paper reported, citing Givemore Chidzidzi, ZTA's marketing director.

Duty Free Grain

KIEV (Reuters) -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has signed a law allowing traders to import milling wheat and rye into the country duty free until the end of this year, a presidential spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The country's parliament approved the law in early July.

Exporters said current legislation allowed Ukraine to import duty-free grain from Russia and Kazakhstan.

Korshunov Quagmire

MOSCOW (MT) -- Steel groups Yevrazholding, Mechel and the Federal Bankruptcy Service have failed to come to an agreement on the Korshunov ore enrichment factory in the Irkutsk region, the parties said this week.

Yevrazholding confirmed Tuesday it would bid for Korshunov in a tender if the debt-ridden company were to be auctioned off.

Federal Bankruptcy Service head Tatyana Trefilova said Monday she could not sign a debt settlement agreement unless Korshunov's debts to the state, amounting to some $65 million, were repaid in full.

Korshunov is a $50 million business disputed by Mechel and Yevrazholding, both of which have been buying assets in the steel industry.