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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Oil Export Duties to Rise

Russia will on April 1 impose a record-high duty on crude oil exports of some $186 per ton, a 16 percent increase from the current duty following an increase in global oil prices, a Finance Ministry official said Sunday.

The current duty was set at $160.80 per ton from Feb. 1, and the new duty will come into force on April 1.

The official said duties on refined products would also rise from the last week of April. They will be set at $138 per ton of light products, such as gasoline or gasoil, up from the current $120.70. Fuel oil will be subject to a duty of $74 per ton, up from the current $65. (Reuters)

RosUkrEnergo Ownership

Gazprom's board of directors Sunday approved the company's plans to take direct ownership of the half of RosUkrEnergo now held by Gazprom's banking unit Gazprombank.

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said in an interview on Rossia television on Jan. 15 that Gazprom would take control of the RosUkrEnergo shares.

RosUkrEnergo is a Swiss-registered company that will supply all Ukraine's gas from Russia and Central Asia after an accord between Russia and Ukraine that resolved a price dispute in which Gazprom on Jan. 1 cut off Ukraine's gas supplies.

Austria's Raiffeisenbank Zentralbank ?sterreich holds the other half of Rosukrenergo on behalf of clients that have not been identified. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom LNG Terminal

Repsol, Europe's fifth-largest oil company, said it signed a preliminary agreement with Gazprom to develop a liquefied natural gas terminal in northwestern Russia.

The terminal outside of St. Petersburg will supply Europe and North America with LNG, the Madrid-based company said.

Gazprom last year said the venture, Baltic LNG, would cost more than $1 billion and had drawn proposals from companies including Petro-Canada.

Gazprom is seeking to attract investment in LNG terminals to break into the U.S. market. (Bloomberg)

Northgas Gas to Gazprom

Gazprom will spend about $67 million this year buying natural gas from Northgas, a unit Gazprom regained control of in June after a legal battle.

"In 2006, Gazprom will buy from Northgas about 4.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas at the price of 450 rubles" ($15.96) per 1,000 cubic meters, Gazprom said Sunday in an e-mailed statement. Gazprom's board of directors approved the gas sale at Sunday's meeting.

Gazprom acquired 51 percent of Northgas in June, settling a legal battle that had lasted more than 10 years and restoring Gazprom's control over a gas field. (Bloomberg)

UES Offers Plant to Rosneft

Unified Energy Systems is offering Rosneft an aging power plant on Sakhalin Island, Vedomosti reported on Sunday, without saying where it obtained the information.

UES's board of directors on Sunday was planning to discuss an additional share issue for its Okhinsk thermal power plant that would allow Rosneft unit Sakhalinmorneftegaz to raise its 0.26 percent stake in the plant to 90 percent for $30 million, the newspaper said.

The Okhinsk plant, which opened in 1960, needs new investment, Vedomosti said. Sakhalinmorneftegaz is the plant's biggest consumer, buying 62 percent of its electricity and 35 percent of its heat, the newspaper said. UES owns 49 percent of the Okhinsk plant through its Sakhalinenergo unit. (Bloomberg)

UES Plans Share Sales

National power company Unified Energy Systems plans to raise as much as $3 billion for investment by selling shares in some of its generation units, Interfax reported.

UES will within in the next two to three weeks choose the generation companies that will sell new shares, chief executive officer Anatoly Chubais told reporters in Kazan on Friday, Interfax said.

The utility will sell shares in at least two of its six wholesale generation companies, Chubais said, Interfax reported. The share sales are planned within the next 18 months. UES needs to triple annual investment over the next three years to $15 billion, Interfax reported, citing a speech Chubais gave at a Kazan university. The majority of that should be private investment, Chubais said. (Bloomberg)

Alrosa Seeks Valuation

Diamond monopoly Alrosa announced a tender to hire an investment bank to establish its fair value, as part of a government plan to win majority control over the firm.

Bids for the rights to value the company will be accepted until March 13, and the tender will be held on March 15, Alrosa said Sunday on its web site.

The company did not specify how it plans to use the valuation, but the figure could serve as a basis for the government to determine how much it should contribute to the company's capital to obtain majority control. Alrosa initiated an offer last week to buy out minority shareholdings through April 28. (Reuters)

Svyazinvest Sale

The government moved closer to selling Svyazinvest, the nation's fixed-line telephone holding, by approving rules that allow official access to the national communications network.

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov last Tuesday signed a decree on the national communications network that ensures the system can be used for special purposes, such as national security, the government press service said on its web site Sunday.

"For Svyazinvest, this means one more chance in favor of its privatization," Konstantin Chernyshev, an analyst at UralSib, said by telephone Sunday.

Russia last year said Svyazinvest may be offered in the second half of 2006. (Bloomberg)

Sistema Ups Comstar Stake

Conglomerate Sistema has bought back a 7.3 percent stake in its fixed-line telecoms unit Comstar from Deutsche Bank, Comstar said Sunday.

Last December, Sistema sold a 10.9 percent stake in Comstar to the German bank in a two-month repo deal to meet market regulations, which state that firms planning an initial public offering must have independent shareholders.

Comstar raised $1.06 billion in a London IPO last month when it sold 35 percent of its stock, which valued the company at just over $3 billion.

Prior to the IPO, Comstar placed an additional share issue that diluted Deutsche Bank's stake to 7.3 percent of its stock. Sistema now holds a 36.4 percent stake in Comstar. (Reuters)

Severstal-Avto Stake Sale

Billionaire Alexei Mordashov and a partner sold a 5 percent stake in Severstal-Avto, the nation's third-largest automaker, a holding worth $41 million at current market prices.

Mordashov, who controls Severstal, the nation's third-largest steelmaker, and Severstal-Avto CEO Vadim Shvetsov sold 1.7 million shares last week to institutional investors, Severstal-Avto said last week in a statement.

Severstal-Avto controls sport-utility vehicle producer Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, engine maker Zavolzhsky Motorny Zavod and Naberezhniye Chelni Avtomobilny Zavod.

Mordashov, who is chairman of the company, first sold shares in the auto holding in April, raising $135 million. (Bloomberg)

Carmakers in St. Pete

Three international carmakers are considering the construction of plants in St. Petersburg, city Governor Valentina Matviyenko said in an interview.

"We are negotiating with three of the world's major automotive companies over building plants in our city, as well as with several car components manufacturers," Matviyenko told Interfax, declining to name the companies.

St. Petersburg is already home to a $150 million Ford plant opened in 2002. Last summer, Toyota started work on a plant near the city. (MT)

Russian Ads on BBC

Approximately 10 Russian companies plan to run commercials on BBC World, according to advertising company Dars Consulting, which acts as a representative in Russia for the 24-hour television news channel.

The first commercials, which can be broadcast globally or in a specific region, will air in about a month, said Darya Chernova, a spokeswoman for the advertising firm. (MT)

Bird Flu Hits 6 Regions

Bird flu has been found in wild fowl in six regions of southern Russia and in domestic fowl in four of these regions, the Agriculture Ministry said Sunday.

"Pockets of infection in wild fowl have been registered in Kabardino-Balkaria, Dagestan, Chechnya, Kalmykia and the Krasnodar and Stavropol regions," the ministry said in a statement.

It added the virus had been registered in domestic fowl in Dagestan, Kalmykia, Krasnodar and Stavropol and that, in the Krasnodar region, bird flu was suspected to have hit a large poultry farm. It did not specify the strain of the virus. (Reuters)

Gas to Italy Falls 8.8% Short

MILAN -- Supplies of Russian gas to Italy are expected to be 8.8 percent short of demand on Sunday after a 6.1 percent shortfall on Saturday, oil and gas firm Eni said in a statement.

Demand for the 24 hours starting 8 a.m. Moscow time Sunday was expected to be 74 million cubic meters, unchanged from the previous 24 hours, and supplies would be 6.5 million cubic meters below that, Eni said. (Reuters)