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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

New Reserves Record

The country's foreign currency and gold reserves rose to a record $168.4 billion as of Dec. 2, surging $1.2 billion from a week before, the Central Bank said Thursday.

Reserves have advanced from $12 billion in 1998, when then-President Boris Yeltsin's government defaulted on $40 billion in domestic debt.

Soaring crude oil prices have boosted revenue from abroad and helped push up the ruble, forcing the Central Bank to sell the currency to limit its strength. (Bloomberg)

Inflation Forecasts Raised

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry raised its forecasts for inflation on Thursday, predicting retail price growth of 11 percent to 11.5 percent this year and up to 9 percent in 2006, according to a document posted on its web site.

The 2005 inflation prediction, up from a previous 10 percent to 11 percent, brought the forecast into line with recent statements by ministry officials.

The 2006 forecast was in a range of 7 percent to 9 percent contained in separate scenarios based on different oil price expectations. That compares with an assumption in the 2006 budget, just passed by parliament, of inflation at 7 percent to 8.5 percent. (Reuters)

New Siemens Ambassador

Germany's new economy minister, Michael Glos, backed engineering group Siemens' stalled bid to invest in turbine maker Power Machines when he met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

"We are interested in companies such as Siemens playing a major role in developing our economic cooperation, and in it buying a stake in Power Machines," Glos said in a meeting at Putin's Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow. (Reuters)

CNOOC Eyes Yukos Assets

SHANGHAI, China -- CNOOC, China's top offshore oil producer, is interested in the assets of oil group Yukos, state media reported on Thursday, quoting CNOOC.

Chief executive Fu Chengyu said any potential deal would depend on government cooperation, because of the uncertainties of investing in Russia's opaque energy sector. (Reuters)

TNK-BP Gas Agreement

TNK-BP may sign a 30-year gas contract this year with OGK-1, a power-generating company set up as Unified Energy Systems restructures, and the oil company agreed to invest in construction of a regional power plant.

TNK-BP and OGK-1 have already agreed on guaranteed gas supplies for 15 years, which is the payback period for the regional power plant construction project, the generating company's chief executive, Vladimir Khlebnikov, said in Moscow on Wednesday.

The company is one of six thermal-generation wholesale companies being set up as electricity monopoly UES breaks up. (Bloomberg)

Exxon May Face Azeri Fine

Exxon Mobil may need to pay as much as $25 million to Azerbaijan's state oil company after the U.S. company dropped plans to explore a Caspian Sea oilfield.

State oil company Socar is negotiating with Exxon over compensation under an exploration agreement between the two companies, Khoshbakht Yusifadeh, a Socar senior vice president, said Thursday by telephone from Baku. (Bloomberg)

Shell Interest in Sibir Stake

LONDON -- Royal Dutch Shell has repeatedly expressed interest in buying a 50 percent stake in the 1 billion barrel Salym Siberian oil field held by Sibir Energy , Sibir's main shareholder said on Thursday.

Shalva Chigirinsky said executives at Shell, which holds the other 50 percent, had expressed a desire to buy Sibir's stake as recently as this year but that the London-listed, Russia-focused oil company made it clear it was not a seller. (Reuters)

Evraz's Czech Steel

Steelmaker, Evraz Group, will divert part of Vitkovice Steel's production to Russian clients, Irina Kibina, vice president of Evraz, said Wednesday at the Czech-Russian economic forum in Ostrava, the Prague Daily Monitor reported.

The Czech company, acquired by Evraz in July for $284.8 million, sells 40 percent of its output domestically, with the rest exported to the European Union.

Evraz plans to boost Vitkovice's 700,000 ton output capacity and change its client portfolio to include Russian buyers, Kibina said. (MT)

IMS Raises $26.3M in IPO

IMS Group raised $26.3 million in an initial public offering in London earlier this week, the first listing by a Russian sales and marketing company.

The company earned $11.8 million after expenses when it placed 26.4 percent of shares on the Alternative Investment Market on Tuesday, a bourse run by the London Stock Exchange.

The share flotation put the company's equity value at $100 million, Alexander Utochkin, senior economist at IMS Group, said Thursday.

Three IMS executives earned $1 million from the share placement, with a further 11 executives scooping upwards of $300,000. (MT)

Seizures of Pirated Goods

A top Russian economics official said Thursday that seizures of pirated CDs, DVDs and other intellectual property increased significantly in 2005, with more than 11 million illegally produced discs seized.

Economic Development and Trade Deputy Minister Andrei Sharonov said the number of criminal investigations had nearly doubled this year, and said the value of pirated videos, counterfeit software and other intellectual property seized had reached 400 million rubles ($13.8 million) in 2005. (AP)

Concrete Platform Collapses

A concrete platform collapsed in a poultry processing plant on Thursday, crushing four workers to death and injuring two others, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

The accident occurred in the village of Khmelevaya in the Oryol region, 360 kilometers south of Moscow, ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said. (AP)

For The Record

Meat producer Group Cherkizov plans an IPO next year, eight years after its first attempt, Vedomosti said Thursday, without saying where it got the information. (Bloomberg)

State-owned shipping firm Sovcomflot has signed a $600 million loan agreement with a syndicate led by Nordea Bank to refinance 11 vessels, fund new projects and buy ships. (Bloomberg)

Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, opened the first of "several flagship stores" in Moscow on Thursday in a bid to boost visibility and lift sales as the global handset market growth slows. (Bloomberg)