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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Cheaper Windows



SEATTLE (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft, whose Windows software runs about 95 percent of the world's personal computers, will sell a cheaper version of Windows in Russia as it tries to fend off the Linux operating system and curtail piracy.

The version, called Windows XP Starter Edition, will be available in Russia early next year, spokeswoman Alex Mercer said. The price has not been determined yet, Mercer said.

Russia has the fifth-highest rate of piracy in the world, at 87 percent, according to a July study by researcher IDC and Business Software Alliance, a trade group funded by Microsoft.




BP-Gazprom Gas Deal?



MOSCOW (Reuters) -- BP may help Gazprom penetrate the U.S. liquefied natural gas market by agreeing to swap its LNG for Gazprom's pipeline gas in Europe, industry sources said Monday.

Gazprom, the world's largest gas company, is eager to export to the United States, and such a deal would give it super-cooled gas that can be shipped in tankers -- a commodity it looks unlikely to be able to produce itself even in the medium term.

"Gazprom is holding intensive talks with almost all oil majors on how to get access to the U.S. LNG market as soon as next year, but its talks with BP seem to be well advanced," said a source close to the talks.

Spokesmen from Gazprom and BP in Moscow confirmed that the two firms were holding talks on a number of issues, but provided no further details.




IFC Funds Novatek



MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Novatek, Russia's second-largest natural gas producer, agreed Monday to borrow as much $120 million from International Finance Corp., the World Bank's private lending unit, to fund production at its largest gas field.

The seven-year loan will be secured by Novatek's gas sales in Russia, financial director Mark Jyetvay said in a statement. The Moscow-based company has been in talks with IFC over the loan for a year, he said.

The loan will help finance production at the Yurkharovskoye field in the Yamalo-Nenets region in northwestern Siberia, Novatek's largest, the company said in a statement.

Total, Europe's third-largest oil company, Wednesday agreed to buy a 25 percent stake in Novatek, giving an entry point in the country that holds the world's largest gas reserves.




Benchmark VTB Bond



LONDON (Reuters) -- Russia's second-largest bank, Vneshtorgbank, is planning to issue a benchmark size bond, typically $500 million or more, a market source familiar with the deal said Monday.

A roadshow for the deal has already begun and is expected to only take place in the United States in a bid to attract a U.S. investor base.

The co-lead managers for the deal are Citigroup and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.




$70M Ericsson Order



STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -- Ericsson said Monday it had won a GSM network expansion contract with telecom operator MTS worth $70 million.

"The agreement covers deliveries until the end of 2004," the company said in a statement.

It said the deal would increase network capacity and coverage in several regions, including Siberia and parts of the Far East.




SMARTS IPO



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Regional cellular operator SMARTS plans to raise $100 million to $150 million in 2005 by making an initial public offering, Sergei Abramov, the company's deputy general director, told an Internet conference Monday.

"In 2005, SMARTS plans to carry out an additional share issue, as part of the IPO," Abramov said. He did not say what stake is to be sold.

The company has no plans to sell its controlling stake, the company's general director Gennady Kiryushin told the same conference. Nevertheless, he added there might be changes in the company's board following the IPO.

Abramov also said that in November 2005, the company would use its own resources to redeem its first bond issue.




Chocolate Swap



MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Guta Group is again planning to create a joint confectionery holding with the Moscow city government, Vedomosti reported Monday, citing Sergei Nosenko, general director of United Confectioners, which manages Guta's confectionery assets.

Guta Group is proposing that City Hall swap its 25 percent stake in Krasny Oktyabr confectioners and its 23 percent stake in Rot Front confectioners, as well as stakes in other food processing companies, for a blocking stake in United Confectioners, the paper said. United Confectioners holds 55 percent in Krasny Oktyabr and 56 percent in Rot Front, as well as stakes in other food companies.