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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

February Prices Gaining

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry forecast on Monday that consumer prices would rise by 1.3 to 1.5 percent in February month on month, faster than the 1.2 percent rise posted in February 2005.

The ministry, in its monthly economic bulletin, also estimated Russia's January trade surplus at $11.5 billion. That is up from $10.6 billion in December and $8.0 billion in January 2005. (Reuters)

January Exports Up on Oil

Russian exports probably rose more than 31 percent in January from the same month a year ago as the price of oil increased, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said.

The country's exports increased to $19.7 billion, while imports increased 17 percent, to $8.2 billion, the ministry said in a report Monday, citing preliminary estimates.

The price of Urals, the country's major export blend of oil, averaged $62.24 per barrel in January, compared with $41.18 per barrel in January 2005 and an average $10.25 per barrel in 1998, according to Bloomberg data.

Oil and gas accounted for more than 60 percent of Russia's export revenue in 2005, according to the ministry. (Bloomberg)

Domestic Fuel Oil Prices

Domestic fuel oil prices rose by 30 percent in early February as local demand soared amid extreme cold temperatures, Energy Ministry data showed on Monday.

The data showed Russian average wholesale prices for fuel oil from all refineries, excluding the Far East, rose to 6,558 rubles ($233) per ton as of Feb. 9 from 5,025 rubles ($179) as of Jan. 18. (Reuters)

Transfers Abroad Double

The Central Bank said money transfers abroad almost doubled in 2005 as citizens of other former Soviet states working in Russia sent more money home.

A total of $3.6 billion was moved out of the country through money transfer services in 2005, of which $3.2 billion went to other former Soviet states, the bank said in a statement on its web site.

In 2004, individuals transferred $2.1 billion from Russia, the bank said in the statement.

Money transfers to Russia totaled $1 billion in 2005, compared with $777 million in 2004, the bank said. (Bloomberg)

Czech Debt Settled

PRAGUE -- The Czech government has agreed on settling Russia's remaining debt with the country, the CTK news agency reported, citing Deputy Finance Minister Tomas Prouza.

The sum stood at $123.3 million at the end of December, CTK said.

President Vladimir Putin arrives in Prague on Wednesday for a two-day official visit. (Bloomberg)

Record Gazprom Profit

Gazprom said unconsolidated net income, calculated according to Russian accounting standards, rose 10 percent to a record last year.

The company's net profit according to preliminary figures rose to 177.9 billion rubles ($6.3 billion) in 2005, Gazprom said Monday in a statement.

Gazprom's unconsolidated profit in 2004 was 161.1 billion rubles, according to the company web site. (Bloomberg)

No RosUkrEnergo License

Swiss-registered gas trader Ros-UkrEnergo might not start supplying Ukraine with natural gas this week because it hasn't filed the proper paperwork, Kommersant reported Monday.

A RosUkrEnergo unit, Ukraz-Energo, has not been issued a license to sell gas because it has not come up with a $300 million bank guarantee, the newspaper said, citing statements by Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov.

Ukraz-Energo is due to begin deliveries to Ukrainian industries on Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

Sistema Not Keen on Svyaz?

Sistema's chairman and billionaire owner, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, said he has limited interest in the privatization of Svyazinvest, Kommersant reported Monday.

The government said last year that Svyazinvest, the state-controlled national phone company, may be offered in the second half of 2006. On Feb. 22, it signed off on rules to allow official access to the national communications network.

"I cannot say that I have a burning interest in Svyazinvest," Yevtushenkov, who founded Sistema and is the majority owner, told Kommersant.

The government has a 75 percent stake in the company. (Bloomberg)

Sitronics Move to Greece

JSC Concern Sitronics, the technology arm of Sistema, will move part of its production to Greece, Kommersant reported Monday, citing Sistema chairman Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

The move plan follows this month's agreement to buy a 51 percent stake in the telecommunications unit of Greece's Intracom Holdings, Yevtushenkov told the newspaper.

Sales at Sitronics probably reached about $1 billion last year, up from $60 million four years ago, Yevtushenkov told the newspaper. (Bloomberg)

Court Rules on Turkcell

ISTANBUL -- A Turkish court rejected efforts by TeliaSonera to block the sale of a stake in Turkcell, Turkey's biggest mobile phone operator, to which the Swedish phone company claims a prior right.

The court rejected TeliaSonera's lawsuit to halt the sale of a stake in Turkcell to Russia's Alfa, Turkcell said in a filing with the Istanbul Stock Exchange on Monday.

The same court last year declined the Nordic company's application for an injunction halting the sale.

Turkcell's controlling shareholder, Cukurova, reached a $3.3 billion accord with Alfa last year after pulling out of a plan to sell a controlling stake in Turkcell to TeliaSonera. (Bloomberg)

Scrap Firm Sees More Sales

Mair Industrial Group, the country's biggest ferrous scrap dealer, forecasts a 10 percent gain in sales this year compared with 2005, as it processes more metal.

The company expects 2006 sales to rise to $750 million, from $680 million last year, Mair said Monday in a statement.

Mair collected 2.3 million tons of scrap last year, 23 percent less than planned, as weaker steel prices deterred scrapping. It expects to collect 2.5 million tons this year. (Bloomberg)

Belarus to Buy Flu Vaccine

MINSK -- Belarus has announced a tender to buy 8 million doses of bird flu vaccine to prevent the H5N1 virus from spreading across the country, a senior veterinary official said Monday.

"We are talking about vaccinating poultry in some regions, close to poultry farms or open water," an official told Reuters.

He said the country would not vaccinate stock on its major poultry farms.

Belarus has registered no cases of H5N1 yet. Cases have been detected in neighboring Russia and Ukraine. (Reuters)

Seal Cull Canceled

Hunters in Arkhangelsk have decided against the annual baby seal harvest for the second time in three years due to economic reasons, the Itar-Tass reported Monday.

"The hunt is too costly, since it involves the use of expensive helicopters," the head of the northern region's fishing committee, Andrei Shirokikh, was quoted as saying.

He added that a 140 ruble ($5) tax on each pelt canceled out the regional subsidy of 75 rubles ($2.60) for each animal killed on the White Sea, Itar-Tass reported.

The region this year was given a quota of 57,000 baby Greenland seals, which are prized for their soft white fur.

Hunters first skipped the harvest, usually held in the first 10 days of March, in 2004 because they did not have the means to organize it, Itar-Tass said. (AP)

Bird Flu in Ukrainian Zoo

KIEV -- Parrots and pheasants have died of bird flu at a zoo in southern Ukraine, prompting officials to slap a quarantine on the facility's bird enclosures, officials said Monday.

But Ukrainian media quoted veterinary officials as saying the strain of flu detected was the H5 type, and not the particularly dangerous H5N1 strain. Cases of H5N1 have already been detected on the southern Crimean peninsula.

The official said the birds had no contact with humans. (Reuters)

Gas Supplies to Italy

Supplies of Russian gas to Italy were expected to be 8.1 percent short of demand on Monday, slightly better than the 8.8 percent shortfall on Sunday, oil and gas firm Eni said in a statement. (Reuters)

Global Investors Coming

NEW YORK -- Global real estate investors are moving into Russia and Bosnia and other once-remote markets as heavy inflows into previously hot countries such as Poland, Mexico and China cut yields, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Foreign investment in Polish real estate doubled to about $3.5 billion last year from 2004 and new investors are willing to accept annual yields of less than 7 percent, the Journal said, citing Cushman & Wakefield.

Much of the increase in funds flowing into real estate has come from U.S. and European pension and investment funds, which pulled large sums out of the stock market and channeled them into commercial real estate, the Journal said. (Bloomberg)

Federation Tower Record

The foundation plate for a new Moskva-City skyscraper, the Federation Tower's A block, has set a new world record, the Mirax Corporation announced on Sunday.

The plate's 14,000 cubic meters of cement poured continuously for 84 hours breaks a previous record set by Taiwan's Taipei101 skyscraper, said a spokeswoman for Mirax Corporation, which is constructing the building.

The Guinness Book of Records' editor, Craig Glenday, attended the pouring of the foundation plate, the spokeswoman said.

The building, planned for completion in April 2007, is set to reach a total height of 432 meters. (MT)

Deerskin Tents Are Best

The Sakha parliament last week issued a recommendation for the republic's government to increase funds for housing in yaranga, traditional deerskin tents, RIA-Novosti reported.

Deputies said modern, state-of-the- art tents do not stand up to the arctic cold as well as the deerskins used by nomadic deer-herding communities, the news agency reported.

Currently, the republic allocates 7 million rubles ($248,325) annually for tent manufacturing.

The parliament proposed including tent financing in the national project aimed at providing Russians with affordable housing, the report said. (MT)

Minsk Coming Down

The dismantling of the Minsk Hotel on Tverskaya Ulitsa began on Sunday, Prime-Tass reported.

The building will be fully dismantled by May 2006, the news agency reported, citing the subcontractor.

A new hotel is to be built on the site to replace the 335-room, three-star Minsk, which was built in 1964. Construction is scheduled to begin in September 2006.

The Rossiya Hotel is set to follow the Minsk's fate in March. Other Soviet-era hotels recently dismantled in Moscow include the Intourist on Tverskaya Ulitsa and the Moskva on Manezh Square. (MT)

Kempinski in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG -- St. Petersburg welcomed yet another luxury brand Wednesday as international operator Kempinski officially opened its five-star hotel.

The centrally located Kempinski Hotel, at Moika 22, offers 23 suites and 174 rooms. Hotel managers predict an average occupancy rate of 55 percent to 60 percent.

The hotel's owner, Petersburg Real Estate Agency, invested about $20 million into construction and restoration.

There are now six five-star hotels in the city, the others being Grand Hotel Europe, Astoria, Nevskij Palace, Radisson SAS and Emerald. (MT)