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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Fund Rises $21Bln in H1

The stabilization fund rose by almost one-fifth during the first half to reach 617.97 billion rubles ($21 billion) as of July 1 on the back of surging crude prices.

At the same time, 523.54 billion rubles were withdrawn from the windfall oil fund during the first six months to pay down foreign debt, including 430.08 billion rubles in June for early payment to the Paris Club of creditors, the government said on its web site. (Bloomberg)

Russia 2nd in Weapons Sales

NEW YORK -- The value of military weapons sales worldwide last year rose to the highest level since 2000, bolstered by arms deals with developing countries such as India, China and Saudi Arabia, The New York Times reported, citing a new U.S. Congressional study.

Russia ranked second with $6.1 billion in arms agreements, or 16.5 percent of all such contracts, trailing only the United States, which had the largest amount of worldwide weapons sales, with $12.4 billion, or 33.5 percent of all contracts last year. (Bloomberg)

Vekselberg Buys Gold Firm

Billionaire Viktor Vekselberg's holding company, Renova, agreed to buy 25 percent of Kazakh gold producer Charaltyn, Interfax reported, citing an unidentified person close to Renova.

Renova is buying the stake from British Virgin Islands-registered TKA Corp., Interfax reported, without saying how much Renova was paying.

Charaltyn plans to list its shares in Toronto after a share swap with Canada's Eurasia Gold, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of November, Interfax said. (Bloomberg)

MMK H1 Dividend

Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works, or MMK, Russia's second-biggest steelmaker, will pay a dividend of 65.5 kopeks per share for the first half of the year, representing a total payout of $244 million, Interfax said.

The steelmaker's shareholders Tuesday voted for the recommended dividend at an extraordinary meeting, the news service said, citing an unidentified company official. (Bloomberg)

Chinese Car Assembly

A third Chinese carmaker, Great Wall Automobile, plans to start assembling cars in Russia, rivaling South Korean and Japanese producers already operating on the fast-growing market, media reported on Tuesday.

The company plans to produce sport utility vehicles and target the same segment as the South Korean SsangYong models that Russian holding company Severstal-Avto is due to assemble.

Vedomosti said it was unclear whether Great Wall would go into partnership with SOK, Russia's largest component producer, or Avtotor, a Kaliningrad plant that currently assembles KIA cars, as well as BMW and General Motors models. (Reuters)

St. Pete Port Cuts Forecast

ST. PETERSBURG -- Russia's key metals export port, St. Petersburg, has cut its cargo turnover forecast for this year to 13.1 million tons from 15.3 million tons due to industrial action, port head Sergei Chelyadin said on Tuesday.

Dockers at St. Petersburg have declared a partial strike, halting work for three hours every day from Tuesday to Sept. 30, Alexander Moiseyenko, the head of a dockers' union committee, said. (Reuters)

Foot-and-Mouth Outbreak

Russia has confirmed an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in two regions in the Far East close to the Chinese border, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement late Monday.

It said the virus, of Asia 1 type, had been confirmed in two settlements in the Khabarovsk region and in one in the Primorye region. The disease was suspected in three other localities. (Reuters)

MTS Q2 Profit $304M

Seasonal growth and more political stability in the key Ukrainian market helped cell phone firm Mobile TeleSystems post second-quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations.

MTS said Tuesday that its net profit amounted to $304 million, up 30.7 percent from the first quarter and 13.6 percent from the same period one year earlier. (Reuters)

UTair May Join Star Alliance

Airline UTair Aviation is considering joining the Star Alliance led by United Airlines, which would give the company access to the network of the world's largest airline grouping.

"We are holding consultations now about whether we'll be able to join Star Alliance,'' Igor Blinov, a UTair spokesman, said in an interview.

Membership would give Star Alliance's 16 carriers access to UTair's 90 destinations and 150 daily flights in Russia and beyond, as well as enable UTair customers to use the more than 15,000 connecting flights per day that other airlines in the group make to 840 destinations in 150 countries. (Bloomberg)