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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Grain Intervention Dispute

Government officials are divided over the starting level of the prices at which the state will buy grain at intervention tenders to start next Monday, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev was quoted as saying Wednesday.

"The lowest price for third-class wheat should be 3,300 rubles ($116) per ton," Gordeyev said.

But he said that the Economic Development and Trade Ministry insisted on 2,900 rubles per ton. "I believe such a price is humiliatingly low for agricultural producers," Gordeyev said. (Reuters)

Kuzbass Coal IPO

The country's second-largest coal miner, Kuzbassrazrezugol, is planning an IPO of its shares, though the timetable is still unclear, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

The newspaper quoted CEO Nikolai Priyezzhev as telling AK&M news agency that the company is currently being actively restructured ahead of the planned share placement.

But he said the firm was not planning to report its financials under international standards until 2007 at the earliest, which will make it difficult to hold the IPO before that date. (Reuters)

New Area Codes Coming

The Federal Communications Agency said it would change the telephone area codes for Moscow and the Moscow region on Dec. 1, Interfax reported. The Moscow area code will change from 095 to 495, while the Moscow region area code will switch from 096 to 496.

The old codes will be usable through Jan. 31, 2006, Interfax reported. From Sept. 1 to Dec. 1, a recorded message will remind users of the change. (MT)

St. Pete Port Slowdown

ST. PETERSBURG -- A work slowdown by stevedores in St. Petersburg's seaport may lead to a noticeable fall in shipments from one of Russia's key metals export outlets, port officials said Wednesday.

So far the industrial action, which was held for four days in June and resumed in July after a failure to reach an agreement, has not affected exports of aluminum and other key metals.

The port's executive director, Boris Oslan, said the slowdown had mainly hit shipments of fertilizers. (Reuters)

Kraft Foods to Sell Cheese

U.S. giant Kraft Foods plans to begin selling processed cheese, a favorite Soviet-era snack, in Moscow and the Moscow region next month, the company said Wednesday.

The company aims to become one of the country's three leading processed-cheese producers as early as 2010 and may even consider starting production locally if the sales go well, said Yulia Vershinskaya, a Kraft spokeswoman. Kraft accounts for 35 percent of the world's processed-cheese market.

Germany's Hochland, Finland's Valio, and Russia's Karat and Rosagroexport top Moscow's processed-cheese market and currently account for 90 percent of sales, according to the ACNielsen market research firm. (MT)

Yevtushenkov Movie Studio

Vladimir Yevtushenkov, billionaire owner of investment group AFK Sistema, will build a movie studio in St. Petersburg to attract foreign film companies and cut costs for his own, Vedomosti reported, citing Sistema Mass-Media head Alexander Leiviman.

The $7 million complex will be the production center for Sistema's Thema Productions and will attract Western filmmakers because the cost of making a movie in St. Petersburg is 30 percent to 40 percent less than in Western Europe.

Sistema's complex will be the second privately owned movie studio in the country, Vedomosti said. (Bloomberg)

Vekselberg's Cable Stake

Billionaire businessman Viktor Vekselberg, the owner of the Renova holding company, has bought a controlling stake in Moscow CableCom, which fully owns Moscow broadband Internet and cable television provider Comcor, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Vekselberg made the purchase through the Bahamas-registered Columbus Nova Investments VIII holding company.

Last week, Moscow CableCom announced that it had appointed Mikhail Smirnov to replace Warren Mobley as its CEO.

Smirnov is a former head of mobile phone operator Mobile TeleSystems and Moscow land-line operator MGTS, according to Interfax. (MT)

Larger Ukrainian Gas Stake

LONDON -- Naftogaz Ukrainy, Ukraine's state-owned natural gas company, said it was seeking to buy out Austrian bank Raiffeisen Zentralbank from Swiss-based RosUkrEnergo, a gas venture with Gazprom, to secure greater control over the fuel.

"We sent a proposal to Raiffeisen," Sergei Lukyanchuk, a spokesman at Naftogaz, said in an interview.

"Ukraine would like to have a share in the company, which also transits gas across its territory." (Bloomberg)