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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Putin Travels to APEC

BUSAN, South Korea -- Pacific Rim leaders will take serious decisions on trade and bird flu during this week's summit and probably back Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, a Russian official said on Thursday.

Vasily Dobrovolsky, Russia's senior official for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, forum, also told reporters the leaders were likely to discuss ways to pool resources to tackle natural and other disasters.

President Vladimir Putin joins U.S. President George W. Bush and leaders from 19 other APEC economies on Friday for two days of talks in the South Korean port city of Busan. (Reuters)

Currency Reserves Decline

The country's foreign currency and gold reserves declined to $163.2 billion as of Nov. 11 from a record $164.7 billion a week before, the Central Bank said in a statement, without citing any reason for the decline.

The Central Bank added $400 million to the reserves from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4. The reserves may rise to about $180 billion by year's end, according to the median estimate of seven economists surveyed by Bloomberg on Nov. 2. (Bloomberg)

Eni Expects Gazprom Deal

Eni, Europe's fourth-largest oil company, plans to expand its presence in Russia and invest with the nation's state-controlled Gazprom in the marketing of natural gas, crude oil and electricity.

Eni and Gazprom, the world's largest natural-gas producer, plan to sign a memorandum of understanding on joint work in Russia and Europe within 15 days, Eni chief executive Paolo Scaroni told reporters Thursday in Samsun, Turkey.

The two companies last month scrapped a five-month-old agreement under which Rome-based Eni would have ceded natural gas to let Gazprom sell directly to Italian users for the first time. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil Prices in Bulgaria

SOFIA -- LUKoil-Bulgaria, the local branch of oil giant LUKoil, has agreed to keep its domestic fuel prices in check for the next six months, the Industry and Energy Ministry said Thursday.

The government and LUKoil-Bulgaria signed a memorandum obliging the company to raise domestic fuel prices at a rate slower than the EU average -- a target that LUKoil said it would achieve by lowering its profit margin.

The six-month agreement included no price-fixing commitment, so that consumers could benefit from a possible decrease in oil prices, said Yelena Yotova, a spokeswoman for the ministry. The government will launch talks on similar agreements with other fuel distributors as well, the ministry said in a statement. (AP)

VimpelCom Q3 Profit Up

VimpelCom, the country's second-largest mobile phone company, said profit rose 93 percent in the third quarter helped by a seventh straight year of economic growth in the nation making cellular services more affordable.

Net income rose to $195 million, or 96 cents per American Depositary Receipt, from $101 million, or 63 cents, a year earlier.

Sales rose 51 percent to $890 million, from $591 million, the company said Thursday in a statement.

VimpelCom, which operates under the BeeLine brand, said average revenue per user slid 26 percent to $7.80 from a year ago, as more new users came from poorer regions. (Bloomberg)

More McDonald's Outlets

Fast food giant McDonald's will double the number of its eateries in Russia from the current 137 outlets over the next five years, Sergei Dochkin, marketing director of McDonald's in Russia, said Thursday.

"We receive numerous requests to open restaurants in cities where McDonald's is not yet present," Dochkin said during an Adam Smith food industry conference, Interfax reported Thursday. "However, for now, we cannot open restaurants everywhere we'd like because of difficulties with product delivery."

McDonald's, which was the first Western restaurant chain in Russia when it opened in Moscow in 1990, now operates in 37 cities throughout the country. (MT)

New IKEA in Kazan

KAZAN -- Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has opened a $200 million Mega Mall in Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, Allard Tiadens, director of the mall, said Thursday, Itar-Tass reported.

IKEA invested $125 million of its own money out of the total $200 million, he said. The general contractor of the construction was Turkey's Ural Insaat, he said, according to Itar-Tass.

The mall, which is to have 115,000 square meters of floor space, will become the first Mega Mall outside of the Moscow region, the company said. (MT)

Grain Harvest

The Agriculture Ministry has revised down its preliminary estimate of grain harvested so far, the ministry's data showed on Thursday.

A ministry statement said the country had harvested 83.79 million tons of grain including maize by bunker weight by Nov. 15. This is a decline from the 83.91 million tons the ministry had previously said farmers had harvested this year.

It said that by Nov. 15 grains had been harvested from 42.26 million hectares, or 95.2 percent of the sown area of 44.39 million.

Russia officially expects the harvest to at least match last year's 78 million tons by clean weight. (Reuters)

IDT Sells Corbina Telecom

WASHINGTON -- IDT, a U.S. provider of calling cards and telephone services, said Thursday that it agreed to sell its Corbina Telecom unit to a Moscow-based private equity group for $146 million. (Bloomberg)

PKN Buys $1Bln Crude

LONDON -- Poland's biggest oil refiner PKN has agreed to buy about $1 billion of Russian crude oil through the end of next year.

The purchase of 2.7 million tons will be made from Petraco Oil of Guernsey and be based on the reserves of Rosneft, PKN said Thursday in a statement.

The contract begins Dec. 1 and lasts through Dec. 31, 2006, with an option to be extended for two years, the Polish-based company said. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine Vote on Banks

KIEV -- Ukraine's parliament on Thursday rejected a Central Bank proposal to allow foreign banks to open branches in the country by defeating the required legislation in its final reading.

The bill, passed in the first reading in April, won the votes of only 184 deputies, far short of the necessary 226 votes in the 450-seat chamber. Forty deputies voted against the law aimed at bringing Ukraine closer to the World Trade Organization and the European Union. The rest abstained.

Foreign banks can operate only after opening a full-fledged Ukrainian legal entity but are not allowed to have branches. (Reuters)