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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Coke Suit Thrown Out

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Moscow Arbitration Court rejected a $5 million lawsuit Friday against Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia, filed this spring by the Podmoskovye meat processing plant, which claimed its trademark rights had been violated.

Podmoskovye's lawyers had argued that sales of its food products with the logo Znai Nashikh collapsed when Coca-Cola released a range of soft drinks on the eve of the World Cup incorporating the same phrase.

Podmoskovye said shoppers negatively associated their products with a large Western corporation and sales plummeted after Russia's humiliating defeat to Japan.

A spokesman for Coca-Cola said Monday that the Moscow-region firm had provided no evidence to demonstrate that their sales had fallen or explained how the $5 million damages had been calculated. Coca-Cola is considering suing for damages to its reputation, he said.

Alexei Girin, general director of AFD Consulting, which advises Podmoskovye, said the food company would file an appeal or a new suit against Coca-Cola once it had received the court's decision.

Usmanov's Corus Stake

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Alisher Usmanov, who runs Gazprom's investment arm, plans to raise his stake in Corus Group to 10 percent, the Independent reported Sunday, citing a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Usmanov last week increased his stake in Corus, Europe's No. 3 steelmaker, to 6.9 percent, making him the third-largest shareholder. That stake is worth ?66 million ($103 million), the newspaper said.

In an SEC filing this month, Usmanov said he had a $100 million credit line to buy Corus shares and financial instruments, the paper said. That loan could be extended, the paper cited Usmanov as saying in an interview. Shares would be bought according to "market conditions," the paper quoted him as saying.

Usmanov is also interested in selling steel to Corus to cut the company's costs, the Independent said. He is not seeking to force himself onto Corus' board, the paper said. Brandes Investment Partners and Capital Group are Corus' largest shareholders.

NRB Men for Aeroflot

MOSCOW (MT) -- Alexander Lebedev, president of National Reserve Bank, an Aeroflot minority shareholder, said Monday he has forwarded documents regarding an extraordinary shareholder meeting to the company's board, which was due to convene Tuesday.

Lebedev who holds around 30 percent in the state-controlled airline said by phone that NRB would vie for three to four seats on the 11-member board and will submit six to seven candidates by the end of this week.

The candidates will most probably include Lebedev and four of his deputies: Anatoly Danilitsky, Leonid Dushatin, Mikhail Butrin. The others are specialists from outside NRB, Lebedev said.

He added that he hopes the government, which now holds eight seats on the board, will support NRB's initiative.

"The current board has not performed well," Lebedev said referring to the board's repeated failure to convene thus postponing decisions on vital issues such as budget review and construction of Sheremetyevo-3 terminal.

Kiev Gas Exemptions

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Gazprom, the world's top natural-gas producer, agreed to let Ukraine export gas to Europe next year that will be exempt from a $100 per 1000 cubic meters export duty, Interfax reported, citing an agreement signed by Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko and his Ukrainian counterpart Vitaly Gaiduk.

Gazprom agreed to ship 127.8 billion cubic meters of gas through Ukraine next year, of which at least 110 billion will be exported to European countries, the news service said, citing Stanislav Naumov, a spokesman for Khristenko.

The company will pay a tariff of $109 per 1,000 cubic meters shipped for 1,000 kilometers, the news service said.

Gazprom will also supply Ukraine with at least 24 billion cubic meters of gas, valued at $50 per 1,000 cubic meters, as a payment for the fuel transit services, the news service said.

Russia will guarantee to transit as much as 36 billion cubic meters of gas from Central Asia to Ukraine, next year, the news service said. Ukraine will pay the same tariff of $109 per 1,000 cubic meters shipped for 1,000 kilometers, Interfax said.

Ukrainian companies will be allowed to ship 6 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe next year without the tax, the news service said. Any shipments exceeding the agreed limit will be taxed by the Ukrainian authorities. The duty is to prevent Russian gas supplied to Ukraine from being re-exported to Europe where prices are higher.

The agreement may be extended in 2005, the news service said. Russia has a controlling stake in Gazprom through equity ownership and majority on the board.

ENR Outlet in Georgia

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- ENR Russia Invest SA, a Swiss investment company with assets in the former Soviet Union, paid $8 million for a stake in a Georgian oil terminal as countries in the neighboring Caspian Sea region prepare to pump more oil.

ENR, which has $140 million in assets under management, bought 6.62 percent of Naftrans Ltd., which owns and operates the Batumi oil and product terminal on the Black Sea coast, ENR said. The Geneva-based company said it may increase the stake.

Crude oil production from the Caspian region, which includes deposits in Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, is projected to triple in the next 10 years as the countries tap new fields and build pipelines. Batumi receives, stores and loads Caspian oil and refined products for export to Europe.

"This investment positions ENR to participate in the region's increased oil production and export with more earnings predictability than could be found in an oil production company," ENR said in the statement.

ENR didn't specify who sold the Naftrans stake. Company officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

BG Rethinks Oil Target

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- BG Group, the former British natural gas monopoly, said it may stop raising oil output, doubled this year, at its $4.4 billion Kazakh field because it lacks the market for the natural gas that is pumped along with the crude.

BG is relying on Karachaganak to help meet a target to increase oil output to 11 percent a year through 2006. While a pipeline to a Black Sea port hauls oil to world markets, there's only one buyer for BG's gas -- Gazprom, which pays one-seventh what it charges in Europe.

"The next stage of the development of the Karachaganak field is all about gas disposal," said John Morrow, general director of the project, in Aksai, a town near the field. "For any jump in crude output, you need a viable commercial market for gas."