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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Profit Confiscation

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- The Constitutional Court ruled that it is legal to confiscate profits made through transactions aimed at evading taxes, Interfax reported.

Such profits can be confiscated in full, Interfax reported, citing the court. The ruling sets up a mechanism for possible nationalization of domestic companies, Interfax reported, citing experts, including Vadim Zaripov, an analyst at the law firm Pepeliayev, Goltsbat and Partners.

Phone License Rules

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The government has signed a set of regulations on issuing new long-distance telephone licenses, an IT and Communications Ministry official said Monday, bringing closer an end to the monopoly position of Rostelecom.

"The new licensing regulation has been signed," said the official, who asked not to be named.

Analysts say Rostelecom stands to lose up to a third of its business when the reform comes into force, which also requires the signing of two other sets of regulations on setting up and linking phone networks.

It was not clear whether the two other documents had been signed. Officials had said they expected the signing in early February.

Pension Raises

MOSCOW (AP) -- Increases in pensions and military and student stipends will be ready March 1 as planned, Cabinet ministers said Monday as the government grapples with persistent public anger over social welfare reforms.

Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov said money already had been allocated to the pension fund for the raise.

"There will be no interruptions," he said at a televised Cabinet meeting.

"All the payments will be made on time. The funds for this are ready," Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said.

KMB Takeover Talks

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Attempts by Deutsche Bank to buy Russia's KMB Bank have failed, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported Monday, citing sources close to the negotiations.

The paper said Italy's Banca Intesa had now been allowed to enter exclusive negotiations for a takeover, also beating out French bank BNP Paribas.

RusAl in Australia

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Russian Aluminum, the world's third-largest aluminum producer, said Australian regulators approved the planned $401 million purchase of a stake in Queensland Alumina.

The transaction, backed by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board, still requires approval from Queensland's shareholders and lenders, RusAl said in a statement.

St. Pete Air Traffic Rises

ST. PETERSBURG (Prime-Tass) -- Passenger traffic through St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport rose 6.9 percent on the year to 240,360 people in January, the company said Monday.

The airport's domestic passenger traffic increased 1.3 percent on the year to 113,584 people in 2004, while international passenger traffic rose 12.6 percent on the year to 126,776 people.

Cargo traffic amounted to 1,684 tons, up 1.4 percent on the year. The airport's domestic cargo traffic increased 4.6 percent on the year to 1,375 tons, while its international cargo traffic amounted to 308.8 tons, down 10.8 percent on the year.

Kashagan Oil Stake

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Kazakhstan plans to pay a reported $615 million for 8.33 percent stake in an Eni-led project that is developing the Kashagan oil field, the Caspian Sea's largest, Kazakh Energy Minister Vladimir Shkolnik said.

Kazakhstan "consented to purchase only half of" BG Group's stake in the project, Shkolnik said Monday in a statement sent by the European Press Relations agency. "We are to complete the documents before late March," he said.

Kazakh officials may meet BG for talks in London on Thursday, Shkolnik said. Petrina Fahey, a British-based spokeswoman for BG, said that the meeting has not been confirmed yet.

Chinese Oil Imports

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- China's oil imports by rail, mostly from Russia and Kazakhstan, rose 57.5 percent in 2004 to 7.95 million tons, an industry web site reported Monday.

The report, which was published on the web site of state-run China National Petroleum Corporation and quoted China's Railways Ministry, did not specify whether the imports were crude oil or refined products. But industry sources say China imports mainly crude oil from the two nations.

Russia has agreed to supply China with 10 million tons (200,000 bpd) of crude by rail this year and up to 15 million tons a year from 2006.

Oil Via Kazakhstan

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- An oil pipeline from northeast Kazakhstan to China will carry Russian oil, Interfax reported, citing Kazakh Energy Minister Vladimir Shkolnik.

The Chinese are responsible for making sure the line is filled and have chosen to start by pumping Russian oil through the link, Interfax reported. Kazakhstan will earn fees for shipping the Russian oil across its territory, the news agency said.

The pipeline is owned by a 50-50 joint venture between a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation and state-owned KazTransOil. The line is due to start work early next year at an initial capacity of 200,000 barrels per day.

Turkish Gas Deadline

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Bloomberg) -- The Turkish government extended the bidding deadline for contracts to buy natural gas for a second time, faced with possible violations of fair competition rules, the daily Sabah reported, without saying where it got the information.

The deadline was pushed back to April 25 from Feb. 25, Sabah reported. The original deadline was Jan. 20.

The government is concerned that would violate the anti-competition rules against forming an oligopoly through vertical integration, Sabah reported.

Azeri Pipeline Access

BAKU, Azerbaijan (Reuters) -- Azeri state oil firm Socar may temporarily lose access to a key Russian export pipeline if a BP-led group elects to use it for oil from a recently launched offshore field, a Socar official said Monday.

He said Socar was in talks with the group, known as AIOC, over use of the pipeline from Baku to the Russian port of Novorossiisk after BP began commercial output at the Azeri field. AIOC has priority use of the Novorossiisk link.

"Socar and AIOC are currently discussing options to reroute Socar's oil if AIOC oil from Azeri takes up Azerbaijan's whole quota on the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline," he said. "If that happens, Socar could export its oil by rail via Batumi [Georgia] or deliver it to its own refineries in Baku."