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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Reserves Rise to $139Bln

Foreign currency and gold reserves rose to a record $138.9 billion, accounting for one-quarter of the country's economy, as exporters brought more revenue home because of record oil prices.

The reserves rose from $138.6 billion in the week ending March 25, gaining for a sixth straight week, the Central Bank said in a statement Thursday. Reserves now exceed the government's total debts, which were about $138 billion in the beginning of the year. (Bloomberg)

Ethiopian Debt Cut $1.1Bln

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Russia has canceled $1.1 billion owed to it by Ethiopia and agreed to let the African country repay a further $160 million over the next 30 years, the state-run Ethiopian News Agency said late Wednesday.

Ethiopian Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin signed the agreement at a ceremony in Moscow on Monday, ENA said.

Russia had agreed to write off the debt to help Ethiopian efforts to fight poverty, Kudrin was quoted as saying. (Reuters)

Russia to Cancel Iraqi Debt

Russia will sign an agreement this year finalizing a plan to write off most of the money owed to it by Iraq, a Finance Ministry official said Thursday.

In November, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was committed to forgiving 90 percent of Iraq's debts, more than the 80 percent agreed by the Paris Club of sovereign lenders.

"We will sign it this year," Sergei Storchak, Russia's chief debt negotiator, told reporters. (Reuters)

Ruhrgas Re-Exports OK'd

Gazprom will allow E.ON's Ruhrgas unit to resell the fuel it buys from Gazprom outside of Germany, Interfax reported, citing Gazprom deputy CEO Yury Komarov.

Gazprom and Ruhrgas have amended their contract to cancel the ban on re-exports, Komarov said, without specifying when the amendment was made, Interfax reported. Ruhrgas owns a stake in Gazprom. (Bloomberg)

Sibur '04 Income Up

Sibur, Gazprom's largest petrochemicals unit, increased net income almost sixfold last year, Interfax reported, citing Gazprom's corporate magazine.

Net income for 2004 was 7.4 billion rubles ($266 million), compared with 1.3 billion rubles the previous year, Interfax said Thursday, citing an interview Sibur president Alexander Dyukov gave to Gazprom's in-house magazine.

Dyukov said Sibur will spend 12.6 billion rubles this year modernizing old plants and building new ones, the news service reported. Sibur will fund 65 percent of the program with its own cash and borrow the rest, it said. (Bloomberg)

Levitin Wants Transneft

Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said low efficiency at oil pipeline monopoly Transneft restricts oil exports and supplies to domestic refineries, the Rosbalt news service reported.

Levitin on Wednesday proposed that the ministry be given authority to supervise Transneft's work, the news service reported. He also said the ministry should regulate Transnefteprodukt because the fuel shipment company fails to maintain kerosene quality in the Moscow region, the news service reported. (Bloomberg)

Yukos Unit Loses $740M

Samaraneftegaz, a subsidiary of Yukos, had a net loss of 20.6 billion rubles ($740 million) in the fourth quarter of 2004 as taxes rose and it set aside more reserves, Interfax reported Thursday.

Samaraneftegaz, which produces 38 percent of Yukos' oil, had net income of 1.9 billion rubles in the third quarter, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)

New Arctic Oil Terminal

OSLO -- A Norwegian company said Thursday it had gained government approval to open a 1.9 million-barrel-per-month capacity oil shipping terminal in northern Norway to handle Russian crude.

Kirkenes Transit managing director Ulf Hagen told Dow Jones Newswires that a temporary terminal in the port of Kirkenes, on Norway's Arctic border with Russia, can begin operations in about two months. (AP)

LUKoil's Baltic Field

LUKoil, the country's largest oil producer, plans to raise production at its offshore field in the Baltic Sea to 650,000 tons of crude this year, a year earlier than scheduled, Interfax reported.

The company's four offshore wells turned out to be more efficient than expected, Interfax reported, citing Yury Kadzhoyan, the general director of LUKoil-Kaliningradmorneft, a unit of LUKoil.

Production at the field this year will be as much as eight times greater than last year, he told Interfax. (Bloomberg)

Shell Reserves Falls 8%

AMSTERDAM -- Royal Dutch/Shell, Europe's second-largest oil company, said reserves fell by about 8 percent last year as the company depleted stores of oil and natural gas faster than it replenished them with new discoveries.

The company had oil and gas reserves equal to 11.9 billion barrels at the end of 2004, the company said Thursday in a statement to Euronext Amsterdam, compared with 12.98 billion at the end of 2003 and 13.72 billion at the end of 2002, as reported on March 7. (Bloomberg)

Koreans to Build Toll Road?

Lotte Group, South Korea's ninth-largest industrial group, is in talks with the Russian government on investing in the construction of a toll highway linking Moscow and St. Petersburg, Vedomosti reported.

The government expects the highway between the country's two largest cities to cost about $6 billion and is seeking half of the amount from private investors, the newspaper said. Construction is expected to begin in 2006 or 2007 and will probably take four to five years to complete, Vedomosti said. (Bloomberg)

New VimpelCom License

VimpelCom received a new regional license after a merger with its regional subsidiary, the federal telecoms regulator said Thursday.

The November merger had hit a stumbling block when the regulator rejected VimpelCom's documents on the merger with VimpelCom-R.

VimpelCom also has to get a new license after a merger with KB Impuls, its fully owned subsidiary, which holds a license for Moscow and the Moscow region. (Reuters)

$130M Bunge Investment

Bunge Ltd., the world's biggest oilseed processor, plans to invest $130 million in its first sunflower-seed processing plant in Russia, Vedomosti reported, citing Ben Pearcy, Bunge's director for Eastern Europe.

Bunge plans to spend $60 million to purchase equipment for the Voronezh plant and improve infrastructure, while plant construction will cost an estimated $70 million, the newspaper said, citing Pearcy. (Bloomberg)

$340M Mechel '04 Profit

Mechel, the country's fifth-largest steelmaker, posted a profit of 9.6 billion rubles ($340 million) last year, more than double the amount for 2003, Interfax reported, citing an unidentified company official.

More than half of Mechel's 2004 net income came in the fourth quarter, when the company earned 5.04 billion rubles, Interfax said. The company earned 1.9 billion rubles in the third quarter, the news service said. (Bloomberg)

Hyundai Trucks in Russia

Hyundai, South Korea's largest carmaker, will start making trucks in Russia in May, Interfax reported, citing the chairman of the company that will assemble the vehicles.

"The production area for this project has already been prepared, and the first 3,000 assembly kits of various models have already been purchased from the South Korean producer," Avtotor chairman Vladimir Shcherbakov said, the news service reported Thursday.

Avtotor, based in the western exclave of Kaliningrad, plans to assemble between 4,000 and 5,000 Hyundai trucks this year, Interfax cited Shcherbakov as saying. (Bloomberg)

Chelyabinsk Zinc Output

LONDON -- Chelyabinsk Zinc Factory, Russia's top zinc maker, said 2005 output will fall 30 percent from 2004 to about 105,000 tons due to inadequate zinc concentrates, Metal Bulletin reported, citing a company source. (Bloomberg)