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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Ruble Rises Again

The Central Bank allowed the ruble to appreciate half a percent on Friday in a move analysts said could help bring down inflation by the end of the year.

The ruble rose to 29.91 against the dollar/euro basket, which the Central Bank targets to set its intervention limits, from 30.06 rubles in the previous session -- a level it had held since late March.

The bank does not traditionally comment on sensitive market information like timings for ruble exchange-rate moves. But Deputy Chairman Konstantin Korishchenko said late Thursday that the ruble exchange rate was one of the instruments the Central Bank could use to curb price growth. (Reuters)

No Agreement on Belarus

MINSK -- Belarus and Gazprom have failed to agree on gas prices for next year, Belarussian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky said Friday.

Gazprom and Belarussian officials held talks on Thursday in Moscow, where Minsk repeated its offer to Russia to cede some control over its pipeline system in exchange for gas-producing assets.

Earlier this year Gazrpom had said that it wanted to raise prices for Belarus to between $150 and $200 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas in 2007, from around $47 now. (Reuters)

May Oil Exports

Russia's oil production edged up in May while pipeline exports hit an all-time high as oil firms rushed to evacuate their output ahead of a massive hike in export duties in June, Industry and Energy Ministry data showed Friday.

Pipeline monopoly Transneft boosted loadings by 370,000 barrels per day in May versus April to 4.76 million bpd.

Russia imposed a record-high duty on crude oil exports of $199.8 per ton from June following a new rise in global prices over the past two months, up from the previous $186.4 per ton. (Reuters)

More Yukos Claims

A Moscow court on Friday approved further debt claims against the shattered oil company Yukos by a former unit of the company, Russian news agencies reported -- a move that improves the position of state oil company Rosneft as Yukos goes into bankruptcy procedures.

The Moscow Arbitration Court accepted Yuganskneftegaz's claim that Yukos owed it $2.77 billion, the reports said.

A spokeswoman for Yukos could not immediately be contacted to comment on the amount. A spokesman for Rosneft declined to comment on the court ruling. (AP)

TNK-BP $5Bln Dividends?

Russia's No. 2 oil firm, TNK-BP, may pay a dividend of up to $5 billion on 2005 results, Vedomosti reported on Friday, prompting the stock to soar as the news exceeded minority shareholders' expectations.

The newspaper quoted sources at TNK-BP, half-owned by BP, as saying the dividend could amount to 8 rubles (30 cents) per ordinary and preferred share -- a record for the Russian oil and gas sector.

TNK-BP declined to comment on the report. (Reuters)

Total to Raise Oil Output

Total, Europe's third-largest oil company, will increase production by 18 percent at its Russian field in the Arctic after the nation's oil pipeline monopoly expanded a local link.

Output at the Kharyaga project will rise to 20,000 barrels per day from August, up from the 17,000-barrel rate now, Menno Grouvel, a senior vice president at France's Total, said Friday in Paris.

Total, which holds 50 percent of the project, operates the field under a production-sharing agreement that enables the company to export all the output. (Bloomberg)

$185Bln Slated for Arms

Russia is to spend $185 billion on its weapons program from next year to 2015, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying Friday by Interfax.

"A little less than 5 trillion rubles are being assigned for a 9-year period. The question is what to spend it on," Interfax quoted Ivanov as telling a meeting of the government's military-industrial commission.

He added that for the first time in many years, the Defense Ministry was beginning "large-scale expenditure" on weapons and military hardware. (AP)

Chavez Receives Rifles

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela received a shipment of 30,000 new Russian rifles on Saturday, weeks after Washington restricted U.S. arms sales to Caracas over concerns about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's ties to Cuba and Iran.

Venezuela says the AK-103 Kalashnikov rifles and 25 million rounds -- the first lot of 100,000 weapons -- are part of efforts to modernize its military, but the U.S. government has opposed the arms purchases it believes could destabilize the region. (Reuters)

ISC Global Allegations

LONDON -- British anti-corruption detectives at London's Scotland Yard are examining allegations that a security company set up by a group of Russian billionaires bribed an officer in the police extradition unit to obtain sensitive information, the London-based Times reported.

A detective sergeant, identified by The Times, is said to have provided ISC Global with information on moves by the Russian government to obtain the extradition of several Russians to face fraud and tax-evasion charges, the newspaper said, adding that the officer had been moved temporarily from his post but had not been suspended.

Documents being examined by detectives show that ISC was paid more than 6 million pounds ($11.2 million) from offshore companies with ties to opponents of President Vladimir Putin. (Bloomberg)

Norilsk '05 Dividends

The board of directors of metals giant Norilsk Nickel has recommended the company pay a dividend of 96.49 rubles ($3.59) per share for the full year of 2005, Norilsk said Friday.

The dividend will include 53.49 rubles per share for the fourth quarter and an interim dividend of 43 rubles per share that Norilsk paid for the first nine months of 2005.

Norilsk paid a dividend of 69.4 rubles per share for 2004. (Reuters)

EU on Polish Meat Ban

WARSAW -- The European Union's trade commissioner said Friday that he hoped trilateral talks on Russia's months-long ban on meat from Poland would open with a "minimum of delay."

Peter Mandelson, on a two-day visit to Poland, said the EU had proposed trilateral talks and was awaiting an answer from Warsaw and Moscow. (AP)

Chinese Visit AvtoVAZ

Chinese state-owned carmaker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation has approached Russia's largest carmaker, AvtoVAZ, about making cars at the Tolyatti-based company's facilities, Vedomosti reported Friday, citing two unnamed sources close to the Russian automaker.

Vladimir Yakushenko, a spokesman for AvtoVAZ, said Friday that the delegation from SAIC visited the plant but talk of cooperation was premature. "We made an acquaintance, so to speak," he said, adding the plant was in talks with "a huge number of hypothetical partners," including Renault. (MT)