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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

$2.4Bln Investment Fund

Russia plans to set up a 70-billion ruble ($2.4 billion) fund in the next three years to finance domestic infrastructure projects, Interfax news agency reported, citing Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref.

At a meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Gref said the fund would be used only for "large national projects" of over 5 billion rubles and lasting at least five years, Gref said, according to Interfax.

Both state projects and those carried out in partnership with non-state companies will be eligible for funding, and proposals will be taken from Russian regions, municipalities and private companies, Interfax said. (Bloomberg)

Thieves Cause Oil Spill

A Transneft oil pipeline spilled crude in central Russia after being tapped by thieves. The accident has not disrupted shipments heading toward Europe. The Kholmogory-Klin link ruptured Sunday after being tapped by thieves in the Perm region, Russian Emergency Ministry said in a statement.

About 3 cubic meters of crude were spilled, polluting 600 square meters.

The latest accident is the third spill in the Perm region within a month period that was caused by illegal tapping of the trunk pipelines. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Buys Gas Storage

Gazprom, which supplies a quarter of natural gas consumed in Europe, agreed to buy about half the capacity at a British gas-storage site as British imports of the fuel rise.

Gazexport, Moscow-based Gazprom's export unit, agreed to buy 53 million thermal units, or 143 million cubic meters, of capacity for five years from Vitol for an undisclosed sum, Gazprom said in a statement. (Bloomberg)

RZD to Invest $11Bln

Russian Railways, or RZD, which runs the world's second-largest rail network, may spend 300 billion rubles ($11 million) by 2020 to upgrade tracks to ports in northwestern Russia so it can ship more oil, coal and other cargo for export.

The Moscow-based company expects rail shipments to Russian ports and border checkpoints in the country's northwest to rise 40 percent by 2010 and 67 percent by 2020 from last year's volumes, RZD said Monday.

"In the future, oil, coal, mineral fertilizers will prevail in the cargo flow," the company said.

"At the same time, other cargoes' transportation will be rising, in particular container hauling." (Bloomberg)

Kherson Refinery Closure

KIEV -- Russia's Alliance Group shut down its Kherson oil refinery in Ukraine on Monday for one-month's maintenance to boost efficiency and quality of oil products, Alliance said in a statement.

It is the second maintenance for the refinery in the last three months. The plant was closed for repairs in April and May at a time when Russian oil companies, which control two out of three Ukrainian refineries, were in a dispute with the government over rising fuel prices.

Kherson will also become the second Ukrainian refinery to be closed from the start of this month. LUKoil shut down its Odessa refinery on the Black sea for a three-year overhaul. (Reuters)

Severstal's H1 Net Rises 23%

Severstal, the country's third-largest steelmaker, said first-half profit rose 23 percent as it took advantage of raw material costs that are cheaper at home than in Europe to increase exports.

Net income jumped to 18.9 billion rubles ($661 million) from 15.6 billion rubles in the same period last year, the company said Monday. Revenue rose to 74 billion rubles from 56.6 billion rubles, it said.

Russian steelmakers are increasing output as rivals such as Arcelor curb production to bolster prices. Companies such as Severstal can afford to boost production because coal and iron ore, used to make steel, cost less in the former Soviet Union than in Europe. Severstal makes 18 percent of Russia's steel. (Bloomberg)

New Norilsk Unit Head

Norilsk Nickel said it appointed Yevgeny Potapov general director of its Kolskaya subsidiary.

Potapov was part of the management team at Evraz Group, Russia's biggest steelmaker, until March 2005, Norilsk said Monday. Aleksander Ryumin will be Potapov's deputy, the company said.

Kolskaya comprises the Arctic Severonickel and Pechenganickel plants. (Bloomberg)

More Cards by Rosbank

Rosbank has issued 1.39 million bank cards as of July 1, up from about 110,000 cards as of the same date in 2004, an official with the bank said Monday.

The figure includes 1.2 million international payment system cards, the official said.

In January-June, Rosbank installed 900 ATMs, the official said, adding that the number of outlets with which the bank has operational agreements increased to 14,570 as of July 1, from 10,500 as of January 1.

Interros Holding controls over 90% in Rosbank. (Prime-Tass)

TeliaSonera Appeal Rejected

ISTANBUL -- A Turkish court rejected an application by TeliaSonera to halt the sale of a stake in Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri, Turkey's biggest mobile phone operator, to which the Nordic company claims a prior right.

The court declined to grant an injunction stopping Turkcell's main owner, the Cukurova group, from proceeding with a plan to sell some of the company to Russia's Alfa Group and get an additional loan from Alfa, Turkcell said in a filing with the Istanbul Stock Exchange.

Cukurova reached the $3.3 billion accord with Alfa in June after pulling out of a plan to sell a controlling stake in Turkcell to TeliaSonera. The Stockholm-based company has applied to Turkish and Swiss courts to halt the Alfa transaction, arguing that it has first refusal to buy Turkcell shares under its agreement with Cukurova.

Cukurova, which is seeking cash to repay about $4 billion of debt, will keep control of Turkcell under the accord with Alfa. TeliaSonera currently owns 37 percent of Turkcell to Cukurova's 40 percent. (Bloomberg)

Sedmoi Kontinent Net Up

Supermarket chain Sedmoi Kontinent's first-half profit rose 80 percent after opening new stores, brokerage Aton Capital Group said Monday quoting company executives.

Net income rose to $20.2 million in the period from $11.3 million in the first half of 2004, under non-audited international accounting standards, Aton said. Revenue rose 46 percent to $329.7 million, according to the brokerage.

"Most of the growth came from new store-openings, while same store revenue increased a modest 5.5 percent," Aton said. Sedmoi Kontinent's total number of customers rose by 48 percent to 38.8 million in the period. (Bloomberg)