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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

RusAl Sales Hit $5.4Bln

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Russian Aluminum, Russia's biggest aluminum producer, said sales rose 20 percent last year as the company shipped more of the metal at higher prices.

Sales climbed to $5.4 billion, said RusAl, which is controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska. International sales jumped 16 percent to $4.3 billion, and Russian sales surged a third to $1.1 billion, the Moscow-based company said in a statement.

Reserves Fall $1.4Bln

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Russia's foreign currency and gold reserves fell $1.4 billion, as the Central Bank sold foreign currency to keep the ruble from falling and to help keep inflation under control.

The reserves fell for a second week to $118.7 billion in the week to Jan. 21 from $120.1 billion as of Jan. 14, the Central Bank said in a statement.

The reserves rose to a record $124.5 billion as of the end of 2004 from $77.1 billion in the beginning of the year, as the Central Bank bought dollars being brought into Russia by oil and gas exporters.

Steel Mill Share Freeze

KIEV (AP) -- A Kiev court on Thursday froze shares in Ukraine's largest steel mill, which was sold last year to a group that included former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law in one of the country's most-criticized privatization deals.

The court ordered that the consortium that purchased the Kryvorizhstal steel mill "should not release, sell or deposit shares" pending the end of court proceedings, Ukrainian news agencies reported. Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk, coal and steel tycoon Rynat Akhmetov, and others make up the consortium that bought the mill for $800 million.

Court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

$1.5Bln Yugansk Plan

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Yuganskneftegaz, a former unit of Yukos, plans to triple investment this year after state-owned Rosneft took control of it, Interfax reported Thursday, citing Yugansk's draft business plan.

Yugansk plans to invest 42.8 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) this year, the news service said, without giving last year's figures. The company plans to raise oil extraction 4.3 percent to 54 million tons in 2005, Interfax said. Output of natural gas will increase 0.6 percent to 1.4 billion cubic meters.

Russia seized Yugansk, which pumped 60 percent of Yukos' oil, and then sold a controlling stake in the unit for $9.3 billion to collect part of more than $20 billion in back taxes.

Yukos Cutting Staff

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Yukos has begun cutting staff at its Moscow headquarters, aiming to halve the number of employees from 1,300, Interfax reported Thursday, citing an unidentified employee.

Acting president Pyotr Zolotaryov of Yukos Refining & Marketing and Yukos-Moskva's first vice president, Mikhail Trushin, resigned from their positions and from the Yukos management board late last year, Interfax reported, citing the employee. Trushin remains chairman of Yukos-Moskva, the news service said.

Tatneft Cutting Staff

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Tatneft, Russia's sixth-largest oil producer, will transfer 9,540 workers to independent servicing companies, cutting its workforce by 30 percent by 2007, Vedomosti reported Thursday, citing company spokesman Rustam Rafikov.

Tatneft expects to cut costs 10 percent by shedding workers, he told the paper. Tatneft will be the main contractor of the new servicing companies, at least in the first years of their existence, Rafikov said, according to Vedomosti.

OMV Siberian Office

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- OMV, Central Europe's biggest oil company, opened an office today in Siberia, where it plans to invest in local oil and gas fields and seek tax breaks promised by the local authorities.

OMV CEO Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer on Thursday met Tyumen region Governor Sergei Sobyanin to discuss the Austrian company's investment plans in the area, the local administration said in a statement. OMV said it wants to make a decision on the investment within four years.

OMV follows Abbot Group, a British oil-drilling contractor, Schlumberger, the world's largest oil field services company, and TNK-BP in opening local offices.

$300M VTB Expansion

DAVOS, Switzerland (Bloomberg) -- Vneshtorgbank, Russia's second-biggest bank, has $300 million to spend on expanding in Russia and abroad, chief executive Andrei Kostin said Thursday.

The Moscow-based bank earned $360 million in profit last year and plans to spend most of it to broaden the business after paying dividends to the government, its only shareholder, Kostin said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Gazprom Plans Bonds

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Gazprom plans to sell $1.9 billion in eurobonds, Interfax reported Thursday, citing an unidentified banker.

The company plans to sell two issues, worth $900 million and $1 billion each, the news service said.

Igor Volobuyev, a spokesman at Gazprom, declined to comment.

Gazprom Debt Sold On

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Gazprombank sold on to foreign institutions more than $1 billion in loans given to Gazprom, Interfax reported, citing the bank's deputy chief executive, Alexander Sobol.

The bank sold the Gazprom debt to meet requirements laid down by the Central Bank that lenders reduce risks by not lending too much to a single borrower, the news service said.

6.5% Growth Forecast

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Merrill Lynch raised its forecast for Russia's economic growth this year, saying a slowdown in 2004 was probably a temporary "episode" caused mainly by government spending cuts and bank closures.

The government estimates growth of 5.8 percent in 2005, after an estimated 6.8 percent last year and 7.3 percent in 2003.

Hambro Raises Output

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Peter Hambro Mining, which produces gold in Russia, said its output rose 41 percent to 209,000 ounces last year, beating a previous company forecast.

Peter Hambro sold gold at an average of $402 per ounce last year, 11 percent higher than 2003, the company said in a Regulatory News Service statement Thursday. Gold for immediate delivery averaged $410 per ounce last year.