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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

$105Bln in Assets

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The assets of the Central Bank rose to 2.989 trillion rubles ($104.8 billion) as of Feb. 1, according to the bank's balance sheet, which was made public Wednesday.

The value of the Central Bank's precious metal assets was at 48.699 billion rubles, while hard currency cash funds and hard currency-denominated securities deposited with nonresident financial organizations were at 1.172 trillion rubles.

Among the Central Bank's assets, other banks' deposits and loans to them amounted to 187.982 billion rubles as of Feb. 1.

No comparative figures were provided.

Carlyle Group Returns

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- For the first time since the 1998 financial crisis, the private equity firm Carlyle Group will reopen a Moscow office.

Joshua Larson and Andrei Terekhov have been appointed to head the office.

Soviet Debt Swap

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia signed an agreement with International Investment Bank to swap the country's remaining slice of Soviet-era debt into $491 million worth of Eurobonds, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.

The issue will come on top of a $409 million bond issue announced on Tuesday which would cover the first tranche of Russia's principal debt of $236 million to IIB and $212 million to the International Bank for Economic Cooperation.

The two banks have been dealing in trade finance within the former Soviet bloc.

"Based on current exchange rates, approximately $479.1 million principal amount of IIB debt will be exchanged for approximately $64.3 million principal amount of 2010 bonds and $426.8 million principal amount of 2030 bonds pursuant to the agreement," the ministry said in a statement.

Russia's debt for the two banks is being restructured on terms similar to previous agreements with the London Club of private creditors which had included a write-off of about a third of the debt.

Both exchange offers are expected to close on March 16, a Finance Ministry official said.

Ukrtelecom Tender

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Sistema and Rostelecom plan to bid for 43 percent of Ukrtelecom, Ukraine's state-run telecommunications monopoly, which the Ukrainian government intends to sell this year, Interfax reported.

Sistema, a financial-industrial group, and Rostelecom, Russia's dominant long-distance telephone operator, were the only companies to show interest in buying a stake in Ukrtelecom, the news service said, citing Hryhoriy Dzekon, the company's acting chairman.

Ukrtelecom's preliminary profit declined 25 percent to 600 million hryvnia ($112 million) in 2003. Revenue rose 15 percent to 5.1 billion hryvnia, according to Interfax.

Sistema's holdings include 51 percent of MTS, Eastern Europe's biggest cellular company, as well as stakes in other telecommunications, electronics, insurance, securities and retail companies.

Zarubezhneft for Sale?

MOSCOW (MT) -- Oil operator Zarubezhneft will be incorporated as a joint-stock company and could be privatized later this year, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Energy and Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko gave this order to the then-Property Ministry, which oversaw state-owned businesses, last week, while he was filling the position of acting prime minister.

The company owns oil production assets in Vietnam and has an interest in Iraq's West Qurna project, a consortium led by LUKoil.

Visa Snubs Ministry

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The Visa International payment system has refused to provide Russian authorities with its operating guidelines and membership criteria for its payment system in Russian, a Visa official said Wednesday.

Visa has submitted all documents only in English, said the official, who asked not be named. According to an official statement by the company, Visa operating guidelines exist only in English because they have to provide cooperation among 22,000 banks that are Visa members worldwide.

The guidelines consist of five volumes and are upgraded twice a year. On March 2, the Anti-Monopoly Ministry asked Visa to provide the guidelines in Russian and English by March 10.

Earlier, the ministry said that, jointly with the Central Bank and the Association of Russian Banks, it was planning to undertake an anti-trust investigation against Visa aimed at clarifying membership criteria.

Koreans Eye Kovykta

SEOUL, South Korea (Bloomberg) -- South Korean Energy Minister Lee Hee-beom will lead a delegation including officials from Korea Gas Corp. and a state-run explorer to hold talks in Kazakhstan and Russia about possible investments in oil and gas projects.

Lee will start a six-day visit, accompanied by Korea Gas president Oh Kang-hyun and Korea National Oil Corp. president Yi Ok-su, the ministry said in a statement.

"During his stay in Kazakhstan, Lee will seek South Korea's participation in crude oil development projects in the Caspian Sea, which holds one of the world's largest oil reserves," the ministry said in Seoul.

In Moscow, Lee will meet Energy and Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko to discuss South Korea's participation in eastern Siberia's giant Kovykta gas field, the ministry said. In November, Korea Gas, which is South Korea's state-owned natural gas monopoly and the world's largest buyer of liquefied natural gas, and China National Petroleum Corp. signed an initial agreement with the BP-led Russia Petroleum, which controls the Kovykta field, to buy gas from as early as 2008.

$850M M.Video Target

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- M.Video, one of Russia's largest electronic goods retailers, expects its trade turnover to increase 48 percent on the year in 2004 to $850 million from $573 million in 2003, the company's president, Alexander Tynkovan, told reporters Wednesday.

The company's retail-network turnover is expected to reach $700 million against $403 million in 2003, he said.

In 2004 the company plans to increase its investments to $24 million from $18 million in 2003. The company's retail network currently comprises 22 stores in Moscow, including one online store, and 11 regional stores. By 2005 the company plans to have 60 stores across Russia.

Australian Coke Deal

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- Novolipetsk Metallurgical Combine, or NLMK, is the first Russian steelmaker to begin importing coking coal from countries outside the former Soviet Union.

The company has started buying Australian coal as Kuzbassugol, a Siberian supplier in which NLMK has an 18 percent stake, has turned to exports.

WBD Stake Increased

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- David Yakobashvili, general director of Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods, increased his stake in the company from 6.49 percent to 7.19 percent last week.

A WBD official said that Yakobashvili plans to buy another 2.5 percent stake in the company in the next few weeks and eventually hold a stake of about 12 percent.

WBD is the country's No. 1 juice and dairy producer.

Slavneft Deal Disputed

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- Minority shareholders in Megionneftegaz are asking a court in Antwerp to cancel a deal under which it would have to sell crude oil to Slavneft-Belgium, a trading partner of Slavneft.

Vostok Nafta Investment Ltd. is demanding that Slavneft-Belgium pay Megionneftegaz $60 million in lost revenues. Vostok Nafta says that Megionneftegaz was forced to sell oil below market prices, thus stripping it of profits.

Irkut Roadshow

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Military plane-maker Irkut said Wednesday it would launch a roadshow on March 15 to promote its planned market listing in Moscow in late March.

"On March 15, we also plan to publish an investment memorandum," said a source in the company, known for its Sukhoi fighter jets. He said the initial public offering of 20 percent of its stock would boost funding for its expansion and research programs.

Irkut, Russia's No. 2 military jet-maker, wants to become the country's top producer by shifting its focus toward making more civil aircraft.