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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Banks Lobby for Gazprom

Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein are lobbying the British government over Gazprom's plans to invest in energy supplier Centrica, The Observer reported, without saying where it got the information.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller is interested in expanding in Britain, the paper said. The company's expansion is controversial because Britain may eventually rely on gas for as much as 80 percent of its energy needs, the paper said.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is open to a takeover, saying that government interference would deny customers the best deal, the paper said. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has indicated a deal may be blocked, the paper said. (Bloomberg)

Centrica Seeks Stake in Field

LONDON -- Centrica, Britain's largest energy supplier, is seeking a stake in a Siberian gas field owned by Gazprom, the world's biggest natural gas company, The Business reported, citing a source close to Centrica.

The purchase would be part of Centrica's aim to have its own gas reserves, The Business said, citing the unidentified source. The discussions were in a preliminary phase and no specific fields had been singled out yet, the report said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom's Ireland Plans

DUBLIN -- Gazprom may enter the Irish market to sell gas to industrial customers, The Sunday Times reported, without saying where it got the information.

Gazprom, which has been operating in Britain since 1999, may pump the gas to Ireland through existing pipelines between the two countries, the newspaper said.

Gazprom may seek a partnership with closely held Irish gas supplier Vayu or it may buy the company, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Mazeikiu Supply Deal

WARSAW -- PKN Orlen, Poland's largest fuel refiner, may sign "within weeks" a contract to buy oil supplies for Mazeikiu Nafta, the Lithuanian refiner it is buying for $2.34 billion, Rzeczpospolita reported.

Orlen has offers from several companies, including current suppliers, to provide oil for Mazeikiu, the newspaper said, without saying where it got the information. (Bloomberg)

Koreans Eye Russian Firm

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's SK Networks is considering buying a Russian oil-development company for $120 million as part of its effort to boost energy assets abroad, a company official said Friday.

SK Networks, the oil-trading arm of top local oil refiner SK Corp., had received a proposal from Russian oil-development firm Leningradslanets to buy a 100 percent stake, said a company official who asked not to be identified.

The South Korean company planned to sign a letter of intent with Leningradslanets on June 13 for the possible investment, he added. (Reuters)

LUKoil's Turkish Expansion

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- LUKoil may spend $1 billion to set up a chain of gas stations in Turkey, Sabah reported, without saying where it got the information.

LUKoil's application to the Turkish energy markets regulator has been approved, and the company has been given three months to register brand names and inject capital, the newspaper said.

A Turkish retail operation would serve as a outlet for LUKoil's refiners on the Black Sea coast, the paper reported.

The Turkish regulator has granted about 39 applications for fuel retail licenses, Sabah said. (Bloomberg)

Mobile Profits Still Growing

The country's mobile phone industry's profits reached $2.9 billion in the first four months of the year, according to estimates released by J'son & Partners on Friday. Profits were up 34 percent, or $740 million, compared to the same period last year, the consultancy said.

The market is inching towards saturation, as penetration of mobile service in Russia continues to grow. Nationwide penetration reached 95 percent, or 135 million subscribers, in May, J'son and Partners said.

However, the actual number of individual mobile phone users is smaller than penetration figures show because the latter are calculated by the number of SIM cards, analysts say. (MT)

RusAl in Iceland Talks

Russian Aluminum is in talks with the Icelandic government to build an aluminum plant and a hydroelectric power station on the North Atlantic island, Vedomosti said, citing Vera Kurochkina, a company spokeswoman.

RusAl, the world's third-largest aluminum producer, is already considering building plants in Australia, Vietnam and Azerbaijian, Vedomosti said. Iceland currently produces 270,000 tons of aluminum per year and aims to raise annual production to 1.5 million tons in the next 10 years. (Bloomberg)

Privatization Extension

The State Duma on Friday passed a bill prolonging Russians' right to claim ownership of apartments rented from the state before March 1, 2005, in a crucial second reading.

The bill, which extends the deadline for free apartment privatization by one year, to March 1, 2010, was written by the chairman of the State Duma's Legislation Committee, Pavel Krasheninnikov, and faces competition from another bill that would do away with the deadline altogether. Independent deputy Galina Khovanskaya's bill has not yet been scheduled for its first reading.

Russians have been able to privatize state-issued apartments since 1991. (MT)

Putin on Corruption

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that getting permission to build housing in the regions was too bureaucratic and corrupt and ordered his regional envoys to deal with the problem.

"To receive these permissions legally requires months and, without exaggeration, hundreds of thousands of rubles," Putin said, Interfax reported. "This is absolutely unacceptable if we want to develop construction." (MT)

Butovo Housing Protest

Moscow police on Thursday arrested three organizers of a protest against the demolition of houses in the neighborhood of Butovo, in southern Moscow, Interfax reported, citing a police source.

The protest, involving 70 people, targeted the demolition of private homes to build new residential buildings under a government program, the source said.

Earlier, the press secretary of the radical National Bolshevik youth movement, Alexander Averin, said about 100 residents of Butovo barricaded themselves into a house with about 15 members of his organization.

"The residents of the region are protesting the authorities' plans to knock down their buildings for development," Averin said, the news agency reported. (MT)

Electronics Hypermarket

Eldorado, the country's largest seller of electronics and household appliances, has announced it will open a new upscale hypermarket under a newly established brand.

The hypermarket will open under the Eto trademark in two weeks in the Gorod shopping center on Ryazansky Prospekt, said Alexander Shifrin, general director of Eldorado.

The company will abandon the practice used at its upscale Elektroplaza shops whereby floor space was divided into stands for various brands, and revert to the practice used in its discount Eldorado stores of dividing merchandise into categories, Shifrin said. (Vedomosti)

Urals Sports Complex

Moscow developer Stroi Grand is to build a $60 million sports and entertainment center in the Chelyabinsk region that is set to be the largest in the southern Urals, an official in the local administration said.

The 30,000 square-meter Eurasia development will include 13 ski slopes, a cottage development and a 350-room hotel and health center, said Karen Saprichyan, the general director of Proyekt-KC, which is working on designs for the project.

The complex will be located four kilometers from the town of Kus on the geographical line that separates Europe from Asia, said Vladimir Dyatlov, the first deputy governor of Chelyabinsk region. (Vedomosti)