Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Oil Export Duties Cut

Russia will cut export duties for crude oil by 10 percent starting Feb. 1.

The duty on crude oil will be cut to $160.80 per ton ($21.94 per barrel), from the $179.60 charged since Dec. 1, according to a decree signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov on Wednesday and published Friday by the government on its web site.

Russia revises the export duty every two months. (Bloomberg)

WTO Deal in 2 Months

Russia could complete its negotiations to join the World Trade Organization in two months, the country's chief negotiator said Friday, news agencies reported.

"We think we'll wind up all bilateral negotiations by the end of February or early March," chief negotiator Maxim Medvedkov was quoted as saying.

Earlier, he had said Russia was aiming to join the WTO in spring 2006.

Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref travels to Switzerland this week for the next round of talks. (AP, MT)

TNK-BP Assets Sale?

TNK-BP may sell oil-producing assets that account for one-third of its output in coming months, Vedomosti reported Friday.

Vedomosti quoted industry sources as saying TNK-BP may sell its Orenburgneft unit, which produces 300,000 barrels per day, to focus on fields in Western Siberia. TNK-BP declined to comment, while analysts said they were doubtful Orenburgneft would be sold.

Last year, TNK-BP sold Saratovneftegaz and a 130,000-bpd refinery in Orsk to Russneft for about $1 billion.

On Thursday, industry sources said that TNK-BP had hired Deutsche Bank and UBS to sell another oil-producing unit, Udmurtneft. (Reuters)

Yukos Will Invest $275M

Yukos will spend $275 million this year to upgrade its refineries, Vladimir Anisimov, a vice president at Yukos' refining and marketing unit, said Friday.

The company will invest $69 million in its Novokuyibyshev refinery, $52 million at its Syzran refinery, $58 million in its Angarsk refinery and $40 million in its Achinsk refinery, Anisimov said, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)

Chevron Leases Rail Cars

Chevron has leased 13,000 rail cars to increase crude exports from Kazakhstan because Russia is delaying approval of a plan to expand a pipeline to the Black Sea.

Tengizchevroil, a Chevron-led group and the biggest oil exporter in Kazakhstan, agreed to the contracts to send crude to the Kazakh port of Aktau, on the Caspian Sea, Alexander Cornelius, the company's general director, said Friday. (Bloomberg)

Comstar Buys MGTS Stake

Comstar United Telesystems said it had acquired 3.05 million ordinary shares in MGTS, the Moscow city telephone operator, which amounts to 3.83 percent of MGTS's ordinary shares, Interfax reported Saturday.

Comstar was set up in 2004 by merging the controlling stakes in Telmos, MTU-Inform, MTU-Intel and MGTS, Interfax reported. Comstar is controlled by Sistema.

The release said Comstar had bought the 3.83 percent stake in MGTS via a public offering and that deals to buy another 0.38 percent of MGTS's ordinary shares were still proceeding, Interfax reported. Comstar paid 1.5 billion rubles for the 3.83 percent stake, Interfax reported. (MT)

Sistema Eyes Greek Stake

ATHENS -- Sistema may soon acquire a majority stake in Intracom's phone-equipment unit, the Greek newspaper Naftemporiki reported on Friday, without citing any sources.

Intracom chairman Socrates Kokkalis met with Sistema management Thursday night to conclude an agreement between the two sides, the newspaper said. Sistema is expected to buy a "significant stake, probably a majority," the newspaper said.

Intracom is Greece's largest phone-equipment maker. (Bloomberg)

Ford Sales Up 54%

Ford said Friday that it sold 60,546 cars in Russia in 2005 and planned to boost sales by 70 percent in 2006, outstripping its rivals on the country's booming car market.

The company said in a statement that its sales jumped 54 percent in 2005 to 60,564 units, while its market share rose to 11.5 percent from 10.5 percent in 2004. Sales data included imported vehicles and cars assembled in Russia.

Ford hopes to sell 102,000 cars this year, in part because capacity at its assembly plant near St. Petersburg is set to double and in part through an expanded dealership network and credit program. (Reuters)

$920M for New Tankers

LONDON -- Sovcomflot plans to spend $920 million during the next three years to expand its oil and gas tanker fleet, Lloyd's List reported Friday, without saying where it got the information.

The state-owned shipping company will have enough money to finance its growth, mainly in the company's fleet of liquefied natural-gas tankers and vessels strengthened to move in icy waters, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Promsvyazbank $75M Loan

Promsvyazbank, the 12th-biggest bank by assets, picked three lenders including Natexis Banques Populaires to arrange a $75 million loan, the banks said Friday.

The Moscow-based Promsvyazbank, which was set up in 1995 to serve the telecommunications sector, will use the money for trade-related financings, the arrangers of the deal said.

The 18-month loan has an interest margin of 1.75 percentage points over the London interbank offered rate. Three-month Libor is at 4.62 percent. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine Intervention

Ukraine's Central Bank intervened on the foreign exchange market on Friday, selling dollars at 5.06 hryvnas for the fourth day running.

Dealers said the hryvna regained ground on Friday thanks to continued Central Bank support last week.

The currency sank to a new nine-month low on Thursday, as it has repeatedly since the parliament dismissed the government last week. (Reuters)

For the Record

Ukraine's Agriculture Ministry confirmed another outbreak of bird flu in two villages on the Crimean peninsula Friday. A quarantine was declared in the affected villages and emergency workers are killing birds in the courtyards where domestic fowl died. (AP)

Ukraine's Supreme Court upheld a decision that the Nikopol ferroalloy plant, the country's biggest producer of ferromanganese, had been sold for too little, a decision the buyers had appealed. (Bloomberg)

The Kyrgyz property fund said Friday that it would make a new attempt to privatize 77 percent of fixed-line operator Kyrgyztelekom in about a month with a starting price of $20 million. (Reuters)

Ukraine's grain exports may reach a record 11.5 million to 12 million tons in the 2005-06 season, compared with about 11.3 million last season, Anatoly Razgon, head of the Agriculture Ministry's marketing department, said on Friday. (Reuters)

Novorossiisk, the country's second-largest oil port, was closed to shipping for a second day Friday because of high winds and rough seas, local ship agents said. (Bloomberg)