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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Pension Tender

MOSCOW (MT) -- The government on Thursday concluded a four-day tender to select private investment companies that will have the right to manage part of the 40 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) collected for the retirements of women under 45 years old and men under 50.

The Finance Ministry on Thursday however did not announce the results of the tender, in which 59 companies competed. The government has until Sept. 8 to do so. A source familiar with the situation said 55 companies were selected.

Vostok Eyes Gazprom

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Bloomberg) -- Vostok Nafta Investments Ltd., an investment company with holdings in Russian gas and oil businesses, plans to raise 340 million kronor ($41 million) through a bond issue to buy more shares in Gazprom.

Vostok Nafta is "reviewing the conditions for the bond issue," it said in an e-mailed statement. The company is registered in Bermuda and has its shares traded in Stockholm.

CEO Per Brilioth wants to increase Vostok Nafta's stake in Gazprom to 1 percent from 0.9 percent. Gazprom last month posted an increase of almost 15-fold in its second-quarter profit, according to Russian accounting standards, as natural gas prices rose following a surge in oil prices.

"Gazprom is by far the best investment available on the Russian market," Brilioth said in the statement.

Triple Gazprom Payout

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Gazprom could increase dividend payments more than threefold in 2003 as the gas giant is enjoying record export prices and lower taxes at home, Vedomosti said Thursday.

The newspaper cited a government document, which said the gas monopoly planned to pay a total of 33.2 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) in dividends in 2003 compared with 9.5 billion rubles, or 0.4 rubles per share, in 2002.

Astana Kashagan Suit?

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Kazakhstan will demand damages from companies tapping a Caspian field if they delay the start of oil production there, Interfax quoted the general director of Kazakh state oil and gas company Kazmunaigaz as saying.

Eni SpA, Total SA and partners, which are developing the Kashagan field, would have to compensate the Kazakh government for profits not received, Kazmunaigaz general director Kairgeldy Kabyldin said in Baku, Interfax reported.

On Wednesday, Total said the group, which had planned to start production at Kashagan in 2005, is now considering tapping the field in late 2006 or early 2007. ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corp., Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Inpex Corp. are also partners in the project.

Diamond Stake Sale

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Alrosa, which produces a quarter of the world's rough diamonds, plans to sell a 5 percent stake in Severalmaz in an initial public offering at the Alternate Investment Market branch of the London Stock Exchange in March, Vedomosti reported, citing Sergei Vybornov, who represents the company's financial consultant.

Severalmaz will sell $100 million of credit-linked notes in September to raise funds to develop the Lomonosov gem field in northern Russia, which has reserves valued at $12 billion, the paper said. ING Bank will arrange the sale, the paper said.

Alrosa owns 72 percent of Severalmaz, owner of the license to the Lomonosov field in the Arkhangelsk region. The field contains about 18 percent of the country's rough diamond reserves.

Yeltsin Rule Canceled

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- President Vladimir Putin has canceled a 1998 ruling by his predecessor Boris Yeltsin that said that at least 75 percent of diamonds mined in the Perm Region should be sold to cutting companies in the region, the president's press service reported Thursday.

The only diamond cutting company in the region is Kama-Kristall, in which diamond trader Lev Levayev's Israeli company LLD has a 49 percent stake.

Another firm, Uralalmaz, is mining diamonds in the region, and the company's top management has started restructuring the company so that Kama-Kristall can take control of it.

Valery Morozov, general director Ruis Diamonds, which represents Levayev's interests in Russia, said the ruling will not affect Levayev's business.

YukosSibneft Transfer

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Yukos, the country's largest oil producer, has acquired a 20 percent minus one share stake in Sibneft after paying an unspecified portion of the $3 billion purchase price.

Yukos bought 948.26 million Sibneft shares from the company's largest shareholders as part of its acquisition of the smaller oil producer, Yukos said in a statement.

Full Price for Power

MOSCOW (MT) -- Citizens should start fully paying for electricity in two years a Federal Energy Commission board member said Thursday.

"This needs to be implemented in under two years because it is impossible to establish a competitive electricity market without putting an end to the practice of cross-subsidizing," Pavel Gorkin was quoted by Interfax as saying.

He added that expenses on transmission of electricity to households are significantly higher than to industrial consumers.

For example, he said, Muscovites should pay 1.8 rubles per kilowatt hour -- almost twice the 1 ruble they currently pay.

"Why do we put everyone on the welfare list? There are those who can pay more," he said.

Highland Gold Buy

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Highland Gold Mining Ltd. has agreed to buy JSC Maiskoye, which owns the Maiskoye gold deposit in northeastern Russia, from Deerfield Universal Inc. for $34.9 million.

The purchase should be completed within a month, Jersey, England-based Highland said in a Regulatory News Service statement.

The deposit will cost $90 million to develop, producing 180,000 ounces of gold per year by 2007, Highland said.

Ventspils Export Lull

RIGA, Latvia (Reuters) -- Turnover at Latvia's Ventspils oil port dropped to 163,000 barrels per day of oil and oil products in August due to a summer lull, but rail deliveries should pick up in September again, a port spokeswoman said Thursday.

July's total was 256,000 bpd.

In August the port handled 70,000 bpd of crude, 70,000 bpd of diesel fuel and 23,000 bpd of gasoline.

"It is a normal drop for the month of August," Gundega Varpa said, adding: "September will be better than August."

Car Output Slips 4.2%

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Total vehicle output fell 4.2 percent on the year in January-July to 700,456 vehicles, industry research firm ASM-Holding Company said Thursday.

Of the total, domestic producers' output stood at 107,708 trucks and vans in January-July, up from 94,346 vehicles in the same period last year, and 551,586 cars, down from 600,933.

Sakhalin-2 Delivery

MOSCOW (MT) -- Sakhalin Energy, a Royal Dutch/Shell-led group, said the $10 billion Sakhalin-2 project in the Far East had loaded its first cargo of 720,000 barrels of crude on a tanker bound for Taiwan.

The cargo has been purchased by Chinese Petroleum Corp. for delivery to the port of Kaohsiung in Taiwan on Sept. 9.

"This sale represents a further successful step in Sakhalin Energy's strategy to broaden its crude oil customer base," Sakhalin Energy commercial director Andy Calitz said in a statement.

In July, Sakhalin Energy delivered a 700,000 barrel cargo of the same light sweet crude to the Philippines. The partners this year have also supplied Japan, Korea, China and the United States.

Production levels at Sakhalin-2 are planned to increase to about 150,000 barrels per day by 2007. The complex is poised to produce almost 10 million barrels by early December.

Royal Dutch Shell holds a 55 percent stake, while Japan's Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp hold the rest.

For the Record

The country's gold and foreign exchange reserves fell to $62.7 billion as of Aug. 29 from $63 billion on Aug. 22, the Central Bank said Thursday. (Reuters)

Russia has raised 1.03 billion rubles ($34 million) by selling domestic bonds at an average yield of 8.78 percent, the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange said Thursday on its web site. (Bloomberg)