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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

$5Bln Toll Road

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The government approved construction of the country's first major toll roads including a $5 billion highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

"In the near future, a tender for participants will be announced and the cost of the project will be determined," the Transportation Ministry said in a statement.

Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said in October that the 650-kilometer Moscow-St. Petersburg highway would cost about $5 billion. For the first time on a major infrastructure project, private finance would be sought, he said then.

Two other toll roads were approved: an orbital route for the Moscow region and a new spur onto the main Moscow-Minsk highway.

Nuke Fuel Deadlock

LONDON (Reuters) -- A deal that would clear the way for Iran to start up its Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant has been delayed over Moscow's fee for taking back Russian-made spent fuel, Russia's nuclear chief said.

"We have told them they have to pay for spent fuel, just like fresh fuel," Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, said after an informal meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Rumyantsev rejected earlier reports that said the Iran agreement could be signed as early as January, adding Russia and Iran had until midyear to finalize the agreement.

Russia's civilian nuclear industry has commercial agreements to re-import and dispose of spent fuel sold to foreign clients, mostly former Soviet bloc states with Moscow-built nuclear power plants.

Oil Duties Cut

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) --- Russia will cut its crude oil export duty to $83 per metric ton ($11.32 per barrel) on Feb. 1, Interfax said, citing Alexander Sakovich, deputy head of the Finance Ministry's customs department.

Prices will drop from the record $101 per metric ton that has been in effect since Dec. 1. Russia reviews export duties every two months after gauging the price of crude during the previous two-month period, Interfax said.

The price of Russian crude averaged $36.35 per barrel from the end of November through Dec. 30, Interfax said, citing Sakovich.

Drugs Boom Eyed

BUDAPEST (Reuters) -- Hungary's two largest drug producers said they were likely to benefit from the Russian government's new drug subsidy scheme but that slow implementation made the financial impact difficult to assess.

Richter Gedeon and Egis said several dozen of their products may be involved in the government's plan to provide up to 50.8 billion rubles ($1.83 billion) worth of free or subsidized drugs in 2005 to government employees, veterans, and pensioners.

However, some drug industry insiders said the magnitude of the scheme was causing major concern about its feasibility.

The entire Russian drug industry is worth only $3.6 billion per year and the government plan would provide an unprecedented boost in spending.

"Annual per capita spending is about $30 per year but for the 15 million people involved in this scheme, spending would rise to $120," a local drug industry insider said.

Internet Scam Arrests

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Four high-school students in Sydney have been charged over a Russian-based global Internet scam that stole people's online banking passwords and siphoned their cash into accounts in Eastern Europe, police said.

New South Wales state police said the four students, ages 15 to 17, cannot be named for legal reasons.

The four students were promised of a cut of the profits for letting their bank accounts be used for laundering the money, stolen from Internet bankers via a computer virus that secretly recorded passwords, police said.

They said 13 Australians, including the students, have so far been charged over allegedly robbing 61 people of at least 600,000 Australian dollars ($457,000).

The total could ultimately reach millions, the police said. More arrests are expected in the next few weeks.

Kalina Issues ADRs

YEKATERINBURG (Reuters) -- Russia's top cosmetics maker, Kalina, has begun issuing American Depositary Receipts, the company said. The company can issue Level One ADRs on 19.9 percent of its share capital, with one ADR convertible into one share, Kalina said. Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas has been appointed as the depositary bank for the shares.

"We view the ADR program as a logical step toward widening our circle of investors," general director Timur Goryayev said in a statement.

Kalina's biggest shareholders are Goryayev with 56 percent and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with 11 percent.