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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

RTS to Sign Urals Deal

The RTS will sign a deal this week to pave the way for trade in Urals futures, which could transform the big volume crude into a global benchmark, rivaling European Brent and NYMEX contracts.

"I believe this market has huge potential and turnover on the derivatives market could skyrocket," RTS vice president Roman Goryunov said.

He estimated daily turnover on the RTS futures and options market was already around $700 million.

On Monday, the RTS will sign an agreement with oil pricing agency Platts to use its oil prices for futures and options contracts to be traded on the exchange. (Reuters)

Rosneft-Sinopec Bid?

BEIJING -- Rosneft may have teamed up with Chinese Sinopec Group in a joint multibillion-dollar bid for TNK-BP's oil unit Udmurtneft, raising the Chinese firm's chances of winning the asset, people familiar with the bid said Friday.

Three industry sources told Reuters that China's No. 2 oil group had already filed a joint bid with Rosneft in the face of strong competition from other bidders. "We are fairly confident. To get things done in Russia you need a heavyweight local partner," said a Beijing-based industry official familiar with the matter.

But a source close to Rosneft denied it was bidding for Udmurtneft alone, or together with Sinopec: "The company decided that it would make no sense," said the source in Moscow. (Reuters)

Rebgun May Allow Sale

Yukos receiver Eduard Rebgun will probably be able to approve the company's proposed $1.4 billion sale of its stake in a Lithuanian refinery next week, his lawyer said at a hearing in New York on Friday.

Rebgun supports the economics of the transaction and said he needed more time to study the terms of the asset purchase agreement, lawyer Howard Seife said. Yukos wants to sell its stake in Mazeikiu Nafta by Friday.

Judge Robert Drain extended the order blocking the sale through Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Worst RTS Week in 2 Years

Russian stocks fell Friday, sending the RTS to its biggest weekly decline in more than two years. LUKoil and Surgutneftegaz slid.

The dollar-denominated RTS dropped 2.7 percent to 1449.75, sliding for an eighth session and closing at the lowest since March 31. The RTS slumped 14 percent last week, the most since it fell 15 percent in the week through Nov. 2, 2003. It is down for a second week after eight weeks of gains.

MICEX slipped 3.3 percent to 1265.87 Friday. (Bloomberg)

Special Zones Bill Passes

The State Duma on Friday gave a third and final reading to a bill that will set up special economic zones for tourism and recreation.

Under a series of amendments that were passed, tax and other benefits will be given to companies or individuals involved in construction, refurbishing or running tourist facilities in the zones, Interfax reported Friday.

The benefits also apply to businesses that develop natural resources related to health care, such as mineral or mud spas.

The zones will be chosen in late June. (MT)

Gref on U.S. Relations

LONDON -- U.S.-Russian relations are "constructive" and the two governments are in a close contact ahead of the Group of Eight summit in July, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said Friday.

"Regardless of some polemics that are taking place in the public arena, we are having a very constructive dialogue with our American partners," Gref said in an interview in London. "We are having very active discussions a couple of times a week, including on Russia's accession to the WTO" and on the summit.

Gref denied that relations with the U.S. were strained and that this would influence the summit.

"We have very constructive relations, which have been maintained, and we will support them in every way," Gref said. (Bloomberg)

EBRD: Growth to Slow

Economic growth across Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Soviet states may slow "moderately" in 2006 and in years to come, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said Sunday.

The economies of the region as a whole may expand about 5.3 percent this year, from 5.6 percent last year, and a record 6.7 percent in 2004, the London-based EBRD said Sunday in an update to its annual transitions report. Medium-term growth is expected to be four to five percent a year, it said. (Bloomberg)

Tajik Power on Track

LONDON -- RusAl and Unified Energy Systems said on Sunday they are pressing on with current projects in Tajikistan, which hopes to make energy its key export by selling electricity to neighbors like Iran and Pakistan.

RusAl plans to invest $56 million by the end of this year on building roads and other infrastructure for the Rogun project, a 4 billion kilowatt hours power unit and 200,000-ton aluminum smelter project in Tajikistan, project team leader Leos Tomicek said.

UES, meanwhile, is on track to have its Sangtudinsky hydroelectric plant fully operational by 2009, and is interested in other projects in Tajikistan and its central Asian neighbors, project manager Maxim Sergeyev said.

Both were speaking at the annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London. (Reuters)

Georgian Growth 8%?

LONDON -- Buoyant capital inflows and privatization receipts should ensure that Georgia's economy grows by at least 8 percent this year despite losses caused by a trade row with Russia, Georgia's central bank chief Roman Gotsiridze said Saturday.

Russia's import ban on Georgian wine and mineral water would not cripple growth, Gotsiridze said. (Reuters)

Chavez Wants Su-30s

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his government was looking to buy Russian warplanes and was free to sell its U.S.-made F-16s to any country it chose, according to a government statement issued Sunday.

The statement said Iran "is in first place" among possible buyers.

Chavez said he planned to conclude a deal for Sukhoi Su-30 fighters in an upcoming trip to Moscow, the government said in the statement, which summarized Chavez's comments at a meeting late Saturday in rural Venezuela.

"The Sukhoi 30 are 100 times better than the F-16s," Chavez said. He rejected U.S. assertions that Venezuela was legally bound to seek U.S. permission to sell the 21 F-16s under the terms of the sale contract. "Those planes are ours; they don't belong to them anymore," Chavez said. (AP)

VTB Expanding Into Angola

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Vneshtorgbank, once the Soviet Union's foreign trade bank, plans to expand into Angola to serve Russian diamond and arms companies, the -- country's investment agency said Friday.

VTB will serve the growing Angolan businesses of Russia's diamond monpoly Alrosa and Rosoboronexport, Russia's arms trading company, Luanda-based Agencia Nacional para o Investimento Privado said an e-mailed newsletter. (Bloomberg)