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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Reserves Rise to Record

The country's foreign currency and gold reserves, the world's fifth largest, climbed to a record $195.9 billion as of March 1 as revenue from oil and gas exports increased, the Central Bank said Tuesday.

The reserves added $13.7 billion since the start of the year, including $7.5 billion in February alone, the bank said in a statement Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Seeks Price Hike

Gazprom is asking the government to let it raise gas prices 22 percent next year for Russian consumers, Interfax reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified company official.

Gazprom, which supplies 85 percent of the natural gas consumed in Russia, loses money on domestic sales because the government caps prices to subsidize industry and households.

In 2005, the company asked for a 22 percent increase for 2006, but got only 11 percent after the government said the higher increase would threaten its inflation target. (Bloomberg)

Mongolian Oil Refinery

Russia and the Czech Republic will help finance the construction of Mongolia's first oil refinery in order to supply energy products to it and China.

Gazprombank and Vnesheconombank, and the Czech Export Bank, will finance the $600 million project under an agreement reached during President Vladimir Putin's visit to Prague last week, Gazprombank and Czech Export Bank said in a statement.

The refinery will be able to process 1.5 million tons of oil per year, or 30,000 barrels per day. Czech Export, a state-owned bank that serves the country's exporters, will finance half of the project. (Bloomberg)

Exxon Capital Spending

NEW YORK -- ExxonMobil expects capital spending to rise this year as it pumps more money into projects in areas including Qatar, Russia and the Caspian region, the world's largest publicly traded oil company said on Wednesday.

The company did not specify a figure for capital spending this year, but predicted it would fall somewhere between $18 billion and $20 billion, up from $17.7 billion last year. (Reuters)

Mazeikiu Talks

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Mazeikiu Nafta chairman Nerijus Eidukevicius said the Lithuanian government was in talks to buy a majority stake in the refinery from Yukos.

Eidukevicius, who is also a deputy economy minister, said Monday's comment by Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas on state-run LTV television that the state would buy the 54 percent stake was in line with long-term government intentions. (Bloomberg)

Oil Pipeline Appeals

ISTANBUL -- BP would consider exporting its Russian venture's oil via a planned pipeline from Turkey's Black Sea coast to the Mediterranean if the project comes to fruition, the head of the company's Turkish unit said.

Turkey sees a pipeline carrying Russian crude from Samsun to Ceyhan as a way of relieving congestion in the Bosporus, which runs through Istanbul and is the only Mediterranean outlet for Russian oil. "There are really very attractive sides to the Samsun-Ceyhan project. … We are not saying: Let's build it, but in terms of usage it interests us," BP Turkey president Tahir Uysal said. (Reuters)

Urals Steel Acquisition

Urals Steel, a unit of Metalloinvest steel group, said on Tuesday it had bought a ferrous scrap company, Vtorchermet, based in the southern Urals, for 200 million rubles ($7.17 million).

The acquisition will permit Urals Steel to collect practically all scrap available in the Orenburg region, where it is based. (Reuters)

Pakistan Steel Sale

The auction of Pakistan Steel, a target for steelmaker Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel, or MMK, should take place at the end of this month, an official in Pakistan said Tuesday.

The sale of up to 57 percent was delayed from Jan. 31, when the five main bidders, including MMK, expressed concern over the labor and property rights at the state-controlled steelmaker.

"Many things have already been resolved. I think the rest will be completed within a week," Zahid Aziz, a consultant at the Pakistan Privatization Commission, said by telephone from Islamabad. (MT)

VSMPO-Avisma Duties

VSMPO-Avisma will ask the U.S. Trade Department in April to review a 21.79 percent duty on magnesium imports from Russia, a year after the tariff was imposed, sources close to the company said.

"Our goal is to bring the rate as close to zero as possible," a source close to VSMPO-Avisma, who asked not to be named, said late Tuesday.

The duties were imposed in 2005 on pure and alloyed magnesium. (Reuters)

Siberian Coal Ups Exports

Siberian Coal Energy will increase exports by 10 percent this year as prices rise.

Exports will increase from 18.7 million metric tons last year, general director Vladimir Rashevsky said during a visit to Siberia, Prime-Tass reported. His comments were confirmed by Ivan Sleptsov, a spokesman for Siberian Coal. (Bloomberg)

Strike Threat at Ford

Ford workers in Russia will go on a weeklong strike later this month if management refuses to increase wages by 30 percent, the leader of the plant's trade union said Tuesday.

The trade union plans to convene for a workers' conference by mid-March and will follow up with full-blown strike action in 10 days if negotiations do not yield the desired result, said union official Alexei Etmanov.

Ford's president for Russia, Henrik Nenzen, declined to comment on the trade union's plans, saying only the management would continue negotiations.

The carmaker plans to make 66,000 cars in Russia this year. It also plans to increase annual production capacity to 72,000 cars from 2007, Nenzen said by telephone. (MT)

CTC Files for U.S. IPO

Television station operator CTC Media filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late Monday to raise up to $175 million in an initial public offering.

CTC has applied to have its shares listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker CTCM. Morgan Stanley is leading the deal's underwriting. CTC said in late February it was planning an initial public offering in the United States.

CTC had said existing shareholders Baring Vostok Capital Partners and Alfa Bank would sell shares as part of the listing, but Sweden's Modern Times Group would retain its stake in the company. (AP)

Baltika Result

The country's top brewery, Baltika, which is controlled by Denmark's Carlsberg and Britain's Scottish & Newcastle, said the results of a shareholder vote on Tuesday to merge with three brewers might take days.

Baltika is holding an extraordinary general meeting at which minority shareholders will vote on its offer to buy out the small stakes in subsidiaries Yarpivo, Vena and Pikra that it does not already own. (Reuters)

4 Radio Stations Sold

Lagardere, France's biggest publisher and a European radio broadcaster, has bought four Russian radio stations, including Moscow's Radio 7, according to a statement Tuesday from private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

Lagardere has acquired Eldoradio, Kanal Melodia and Melodia-Moscow in addition to Radio 7, Warburg Pincus said. Terms were not disclosed.

The purchase is "an important step in our vision of becoming the leading radio broadcaster in Russia," Jean-Christophe Lestra, chief executive of Lagardere Active Radio International, said in the statement. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Russia and Turkey led a slump in emerging stock markets worldwide on concern that rising U.S. interest rates will slow the global economy. Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Markets Index had its steepest loss since May 2004 on Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

Hungarian banks including Foldhitel es Jelzalogbank will set up a bank in Moscow to provide mortgage-backed loans for Hungarian construction companies entering the Russian market, Napi Gazdasag reported Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine wants to double its refinery capacity and set up a strategic oil reserve storing a 90-day supply by 2008, in an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russia. (Bloomberg)