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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Putin Pushes Pipeline

President Vladimir Putin has instructed Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to expedite plans for an $11.5 billion crude-oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to the Pacific Ocean, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Putin sent Fradkov a letter telling him to resolve differences between various government bodies over the route and design of the link because the project has been "unjustly delayed," the newspaper said, citing an unidentified senior Kremlin official.

Resolution of those differences may enable Transneft, the state-run pipeline monopoly building the link, to start construction next year instead of 2007 as planned, the paper said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Sakhalin-2 Stake

LONDON -- Gazprom plans to secure a stake in the Royal Dutch Shell-led Sakhalin-2 project by August, Interfax reported, citing Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom's deputy chief executive.

Gazprom plans to take a 25 percent stake in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, Medvedev said Sept. 21. Gazprom is asking for a cash payment as well as the stake in exchange for giving Shell 50 percent of its Zapolyarnoye gas field in the Arctic, he said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Eyes North Korea

Gazprom is interested in exploring seven oil and natural gas fields in North Korea, RIA TEK, a news service for the Industry and Energy Ministry, said Monday, citing Gazprom deputy chief executive Alexander Medvedev.

Gazprom is examining plans to build a gas pipeline from Russia across North and South Korea, the online news service said.

Gazprom executives in January met North Korea officials to discuss cooperation in oil and gas industry, Gazprom said Jan. 21. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Plant in Portugal

LISBON -- Gazprom is considering building an ethylene plant in Portugal's Sines region, Jornal de Noticias reported, citing Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Pinho, who spoke to reporters during a visit to Moscow. A study is still in very initial stages, the newspaper said. The plant would be built using exclusively Russian capital, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Sibur Revenues Up 25%

Sibur, the petrochemicals unit of state-controlled Gazprom, said nine-month sales climbed 25 percent as prices for the company's products rose.

Sales jumped to 75.2 billion rubles ($2.63 billion) from 60.4 billion rubles in the year earlier period, the company said Monday in a statement.

Export sales rose 36 percent to 22.2 billion rubles.

Sibur, the country's largest petrochemicals maker, produces liquefied petroleum gases, plastics and polymers and more than half of Russia's rubber. It also processes natural gas for transportation. (Bloomberg)

MMK Dividend

YEKATERINBURG -- The board of directors of Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works, or MMK, has recommended the company pay a nine-month dividend of 0.667 rubles (23 cents) per share, it said on Monday.

MMK has never paid a nine-month dividend. One share has a nominal value of 1 ruble. MMK's nine-month net profit grew slightly to 23.942 billion rubles from 23.866 billion rubles in the same 2004 period, to Russian Accounting Standards.

MMK paid one of the biggest dividends for a Russian steel company in 2004 - 1.34 rubles per share, or a total of $508 million. (Reuters)

Britain's Boots Coming

Boots, owner of the largest British drugstore chain, will start selling its products in Russia next month, Vedomosti said, citing Artyom Bektemirov, chief executive of pharmacy chain 36.6, Boots' Russian partner.

36.6 expects to start selling Boots' Botanics, Natural Collection, Mediterranean and No. 7 cosmetics at some of its Moscow stores in November, Bektemirov told the daily newspaper. The Russian chain will then begin introducing the brands at its stores in the regions, Vedomosti said.

The number of 36.6's Russian stores that will sell Boots' products and sales terms will be determined this week, the paper cited Bektemirov as saying. (Bloomberg)

Coffee Firm Upbeat

SINGAPORE -- Singapore-listed instant-coffee manufacturer Food Empire Holdings plans to expand its distribution network in Eastern Europe and targets 15 to 20 percent revenue growth a year, the company said Monday.

"We already have a good penetration in the former Soviet countries like Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania," said chairman Tan Wang-cheow.

Tan is confident Russia will still be the firm's main growth driver. "Russia's economy is doing well because of its oil and gas reserves. A more affluent people will translate into better business for the company," he said.

The firm is also considering building a factory in Russia, its first outside Southeast Asia. (Reuters)

Perekryostok Plans Bond

Food retailer Perekryostok plans a debut eurobond issue for up to $250 million in the second half of 2006, a company spokesman said on Monday.

According to data from investment bank Troika Dialog, Perekryostok has a 9 percent share of the market among Russia's leading retail chains. As of May 2005, Perekryostok owned 107 stores in Russia. (Reuters)

Grain Harvest Almost Done

Russia has threshed 84.2 million tons of grain by bunker weight so far from 99 percent of the harvesting area, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday. Gross grain crop rose by 2.2 million tons from the year ago volume. (Reuters)

Cattle, Pig Numbers Drop

Cattle and pig numbers have fallen in the first nine months of the year compared with the same time last year, data from the State Statistics Service showed.

A service statement said the number of cattle had fallen by 6.9 percent to 23.2 million head year on year, while the number of pigs fell by 7.1 percent to 14.8 million. The number of sheep and goats rose by 1.9 percent to 19.1 million head. (Reuters)

Ukraine Cuts GDP Forecast

KIEV -- Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov predicted on Monday that the economy would grow between 2.0 and 4.0 percent this year, the third cut in the government forecast so far this year.

The previous forecast, unveiled a week ago by the economy minister, saw full-year growth of between 4.5 percent and 5.0 percent of gross domestic product in 2005 compared with 12.1 percent expansion last year.

The government had hoped for about 5 percent growth this year, but this was before disappointing data earlier this month on foreign trade. Ukraine posted a trade deficit of $372.2 million in the first eight months of the year. (Reuters)

Moscow Office Expansion

A survey of 500 major European companies has named Moscow as the No. 3 location in Europe for expansion in the next five years.

According to the annual European Cities Monitor report by the Cushman & Wakefield Healy & Baker real estate firm, 24 percent of companies polled planned to have offices in Moscow by 2010, up from 17 percent now. That would put the Russian capital equal eighth with Brussels in terms of representation from the 500 companies.

Russia was ranked the third-worst city to locate a business out of the 30 polled, and dead last in terms of pollution and quality of life. (MT)

China Hotel Growth

HONG KONG -- InterContinental Hotels Group expects China to account for up to one-third of the company's global expansion over the next three years, during which the British company plans to add up to 60,000 new rooms.

Much of the growth in China will be spurred by domestic travel partly linked to the mainland's road-building scheme, the group's chief executive, Andrew Cosslett, told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview. With its booming economy, China is at the core of London-listed InterContinental's development plans in the Asia-Pacific region, and will likely become its third-largest market in 10 years, after the United States and Britain, Cosslett said.

The world's largest hotel operator by number of rooms, owning the high-end InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands, it is aiming to manage 125 hotels in China by the end of 2008, a nearly threefold rise from the current 47. (AP)