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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Volkswagen Picks Kaluga



FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen has selected the Kaluga region, 160 kilometers southwest of Moscow, for a plant with a capacity of 115,000 vehicles per year, Europe's biggest carmaker said on Friday.

The plant will begin to assemble Volkswagen and Skoda models from imported components -- so-called semi-knocked-down production -- in the second half of 2007, it said in a statement. Initial output will be around 20,000 cars per year.

The first model produced will be the Skoda Octavia.

It will also prepare metalworking and painting operations so that full production can start in the first half of 2009.

Contracts are due to be signed in Moscow on May 29.

Volkswagen shares edged up on the news, rising 0.4 percent to 56.09 euros ($71.75) by mid-afternoon in London, while the DJ Stoxx European car sector index was up 1.2 percent. (Reuters)




Rosneft IPO Discount?



Investors worried about possible lawsuits, a global market downturn and political risk say they will only buy shares in state oil firm Rosneft's IPO if they are offered at a big discount.

The politically charged initial public offering, the country's biggest, is touted as a symbol of a resurgent Russia riding high on an oil price boom.

But a harsh market correction is making investors recalculate the risks as criticism of how Rosneft acquired its core asset, Yugansk, grows ahead of the planned July IPO.

Emerging-markets guru Mark Mobius, who manages $30 billion at Templeton, said Rosneft would have to compete with other IPO rivals for a diminishing pool of emerging-markets liquidity.

"The global pool of money may not be enough for all these IPOs," Mobius said. "A year ago, everything which was put into the market was gobbled. But now investors will look very carefully at valuations.

"Rosneft is going to have to be a hell of a lot cheaper than LUKoil if they are to pull it off." Russia's No.3 oil producer hopes to sell a minority stake for up to $8 billion. (Reuters)




Ivanov Backs Iran Sales



Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on Friday reiterated Moscow's commitment to supply Iran with sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles.

"If there are no extraordinary circumstances, [the contract] will without doubt be fulfilled," Ivanov said on state-run Rossia television.

Defense Ministry officials have previously said Moscow will supply 29 sophisticated Tor-M1 air-defense missile systems to Iran under a $700 million contract, according to media reports.

"As far as Russia's position is concerned, we strictly abide by all nonproliferation regimes, and when we hear reproaches that Russia is secretly helping Iran -- it is just propaganda," Ivanov said, Interfax reported. (AP)




Berezovsky Wins Lawsuit



A London court awarded Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky ?50,000 ($93,000) in damages Friday in a slander case brought against Alfa Group chief Mikhail Fridman, RIA-Novosti reported Friday.

Berezovsky, who has been granted asylum in Britain, was suing Fridman over comments made on the "K Baryeru" talk show in 2004.

Fridman alleged Berezovsky had threatened to kill him in 1999 when the two were vying for control of Kommersant Publishing House, which was finally bought by Berezovsky.

But a jury handed down a 10-1 decision in favor of Berezovsky.

"I take this not just as a victory, but an indisputable victory with a 10-1 score," Berezovsky said, RIA-Novosti reported. (MT)




Gazprom in LNG Talks



The export chief of Gazprom met the head of Japanese engineering firm Chiyoda to discuss joint work in liquefied natural gas, Gazprom said Friday.

"At the meeting, the prospects for cooperation in Gazprom's Shtokman and Baltic LNG projects were discussed," Gazprom said in a statement.

The meeting with Chiyoda, which builds LNG plants, raises the prospect for the second time this week that Gazprom, which is looking for technical know-how for its vast Shtokman LNG project, may be looking to lessen its dependence on foreign equity partners. (Reuters)




Azeri Gas to Europe



LONDON -- Azerbaijan has offered to sell gas to Europe and reduce the continent's dependence on Russia for the commodity, the Financial Times reported Saturday, citing an interview with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev.

Aliyev said his country had seen extra demand from Europe that prompted him to consider supplying the region, the newspaper said. New gas developments may be ready in 2015, the FT said, citing oil industry executives it did not name.

Azerbaijan is ready to help the supply oil through its pipelines, the newspaper cited Aliyev as saying. Aliyev ran state oil company Socar before succeeding his father Heydar as president of the country, the FT said.

The country is unlikely to have a similar level of democracy to Europe for about 15 years, the newspaper quoted Aliyev as saying. Aliyev believes rapid economic development will strengthen democracy, the FT said. (Bloomberg)




E.On Deal by August?



Gazprom plans to reach an accord before August giving Germany's E.On a stake in a natural gas field, Handelsblatt said Friday, citing an interview with Gazprom deputy chief executive officer Alexander Medvedev.

E.On's natural gas unit Ruhrgas has for the last two years sought a 25 percent stake in the Yuzhno-Russkoye field, the newspaper said. In return, Gazprom wants "significant" stakes in E.On Ruhrgas units, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)




Pipeline Work to Begin



Transneft, the country's state-run oil pipeline monopoly, plans to start building a pipeline across Siberia to supply Asian markets in June.

The company will begin construction near Skovorodino, which is about 60 kilometers from the Chinese border, Transneft chief executive officer Semyon Vainshtok told President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi on Friday, in a meeting broadcast by state-owned Rossia television.

Russia, the world's second-biggest oil supplier, is seeking to increase crude exports to China, the world's fastest-growing energy consumer, and to Japan through the pipeline.

Greenpeace, an international environmentalist group, in February sent letters to Western banks, including Citigroup and ABN Amro, to discourage them from funding construction of the link. (Bloomberg)




Efes Q1 Profit Up 52%



ISTANBUL -- Anadolu Efes Biracilik & Malt Sanayii, the largest beermaker in the Middle East, said first-quarter profit rose 52 percent as it expanded in Russia and Turkey.

Net income was 24.4 million liras ($16 million), from 16.1 million liras a year earlier, the company said in a statement Sunday.

Anadolu Efes is benefiting from growth in the Russian beer market, which may expand as much as 10 percent this year after growing at an even faster pace in the previous two years, Omer Omerbas, an analyst at Ekspres Invest in Istanbul, said before the figures were announced.

First-quarter sales and profit were crimped last year by a ban on alcohol advertising in Russia.

Anadolu Efes is the fourth-biggest beermaker in Russia and bought a new unit in the country in January. (Bloomberg)