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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Reserves Hit Record

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Foreign currency and gold reserves rose to a record $134.4 billion in the week to March 4, the Central Bank said in a statement Thursday.

The reserves rose from $132.4 billion seven days earlier, gaining for the third-straight week.

Ruble Appreciation

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The ruble's real effective exchange rate appreciation was 4.3 percent in January and February, up from 2.8 percent in the same period a year earlier, Central Bank preliminary data showed on Thursday.

The Central Bank uses the REER, measured against a basket of foreign currencies and adjusted for inflation differences, as one of its twin policy targets. A positive figure suggests that the economy is losing competitiveness. This year's REER target is 8 percent.

Budget Surplus

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- The federal budget surplus totaled 224.5 billion rubles ($8.2 billion) in the first two months, as the country benefited from high oil prices, the Finance Ministry said.

Russia's budget revenue was at 744.97 billion rubles in the first two months of the year, or 92 percent of the revenue initially planned for the first quarter, said Finance Ministry spokeswoman Irina Ershova in an interview Thursday. Spending totaled 520.4 billion rubles, or 63 percent of the initial plan for the first quarter, she said.

Rosneft VPs Axed

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- State-owned oil company Rosneft said it eliminated two vice president posts to simplify its management structure.

Vladmir Ivanchikov and Dmitry Antoniadi will no longer act as company vice presidents but will stay on in their respective roles as general director of Rosneft unit Arkhangelsknefteprodukt and general director of Rosneft unit Rosneft-NTTS.

Rosneft vice president Yury Matveyev, who is in charge of relations with the government and the press, has asked to retire, Interfax reported Wednesday, without giving any reason for his planned departure.

UES Investments

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Unified Energy Systems will invest at least $1 billion per year through 2015 in the nation's power grid to make sure more electricity reliably flows from power plants to homes and businesses as demand grows.

UES will invest 27.7 billion rubles ($1 billion) in 2005 and the company's federal grid unit will start next year to invest 32.1 billion rubles per year in the grid, Vladimir Dorofeyev, the federal grid company's deputy chief executive, said Thursday at a news conference.

Russia needs to spend as much as $50 billion to upgrade its aging generators and power grid, much of which dates from the Soviet era, UES chief executive Anatoly Chubais said last year.

Russian energy demand probably will grow 1.64 percent per year through 2015, Dorofeyev said, citing UES's base scenario for that period.

TNK-BP Reserves

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- TNK-BP expects to have achieved full replacement of its reserves in 2004, TNK-BP CEO Robert Dudley said on Thursday.

"We will replace our reserves in 2004. The numbers are still being finalized," Dudley told an investor briefing.

The British-Russian venture showed a 13 percent rise in production last year to 72 million tons of oil equivalent, outstripping the Russian industry average, while holding lifting costs in line with plan, Dudley said.

He also gave ballpark figures for TNK-BP's financial results, saying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization came in at about $6.5 billion in 2004, with net profits around $4 billion.

Norilsk Disclosure

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Norilsk Nickel will disclose information on platinum group metals production at the end of May, Interfax reported.

The company, which produces more than half the world's palladium and 14 percent of its platinum, has started talks with independent companies to audit its reserves, Interfax said, citing deputy general director Denis Morozov.

President Vladimir Putin signed decrees this month declassifying data on production and stock of platinum group metals and diamonds, allowing producers such as Norilsk Nickel to publish the information.

Golden Telecom Profit

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's largest independent fixed-line provider, Golden Telecom, reported a net profit of $17.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2004, or 6 percent more than in the third quarter.

But the figure was below the $18.2 million net profit that Nasdaq-listed Golden Telecom posted in the same period a year earlier.

$300M Plastics Plant

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Sibur, Gazprom's biggest petrochemical unit, may spend more than $300 million to buy and complete a state-owned plastics plant, Vedomosti reported, citing Gazprom deputy chief executive Alexander Ryazanov.

The state is selling Polief, a plant that was begun in 1987 and never completed, for at least 3.34 billion rubles ($120 million), the paper said. The sale has failed three times so far because there were no bidders, it said. Ryazanov said Sibur planned to bid for Polief, based in Bashkortostan, and to spend $200 million to complete it, Vedomosti reported.

Kazakh Joint Venture

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (Reuters) -- Gas monopoly Gazprom and Kazakhstan's state oil and gas firm plan to set up a joint venture to process natural gas from Kazakhstan's Karachaganak field, Kommersant reported Thursday.

The field, currently operated by a consortium near the Russian border in northwestern Kazakhstan, is one of the country's three main oilfields but needs infrastructure to process its increasing natural gas output.

Kommersant said the gas would be transported to nearby Orenburg for processing. The paper estimated total investment in Orenburg's modernization and construction of a gas pipeline from Kazakhstan at $300 million to $320 million over the next couple of years.

Hungarian Bank Stake

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Gazprombank, owned by Gazprom, said Thursday it had decided to sell its quarter stake in Hungarian bank AEB worth $80 million.

"In September 2004, the Group's management decided to dispose of the 25.5 percent investment in Altalanos Ertekforgalmi Bank (AEB) (Hungary) and initiated negotiations with potential buyers," Gazprombank said in a nine-month financial report.

The report was referring to Gazprombank Group, which includes Gazprombank, its subsidiaries and associates.