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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Lavrov Optimistic on WTO

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday voiced optimism that a deal with the United States on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization could be finalized before the Russian and U.S. presidents meet this week.

President Vladimir Putin is to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush before the weekend summit of the Group of Eight in St. Petersburg. "Both countries are undertaking very intense efforts these days in the expectation that something can be reported to the presidents of Russia and the United States when they meet in St. Petersburg on the eve of the G8 summit," Lavrov said at a briefing. (AP)

May Refinery Runs Fall

Refining runs fell in May versus April as firms sought to export more crude oil before a further increase in export duties in June, Industry and Energy Ministry data showed Wednesday.

The country's refineries processed 4.15 million barrels per day in May, down from 4.43 million bpd in April, which was an all-time high.

In June, oil export duties rose to a new high of $199.8 per ton from the previous $186.4 per ton, following a new rise in global prices over the previous months. (Reuters)

Yukos Creditors Lawsuit

AMSTERDAM -- Creditors of Yukos should come to an agreement on the distribution of proceeds from the company's sale of a stake in Lithuanian refinery Mazeikiu Nafta, a court in Amsterdam said Tuesday.

The creditors, among them state-owned oil company Rosneft, have about a month to come up with a proposal, Judge Carla Laurentius-Kooter said.

Yukos, once Russia's largest oil company, in May sold its 54 percent stake in the refinery for $1.5 billion to PKN Orlen of Poland.

The judge also said that Eduard Rebgun, the court-appointed manager of Yukos, could not take part in those talks until the court made a final decision Aug. 17 on his participation. (Bloomberg)

Comstar Q1 Profit Up 39%

Fixed-line telecoms operator Comstar reported Wednesday a $39 million first-quarter net profit, a 39 percent rise on a year ago.

Revenues amounted to $249.8 million and were 22 percent higher than in the first quarter of last year. Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization were $102.3 million, 21 percent higher than a year ago.

"We continued to focus on the development of our broadband offering, which, together with increased tariffs, was the major growth drivers in the first quarter of 2006," Comstar quoted its chief executive, Semyon Rabovsky, as saying in a regulatory statement. (Reuters)

VimpelCom Georgia Buy

VimpelCom, the country's No. 2 mobile telephone provider, has bought 51 percent of Georgian cellular operator Mobitel for $12.6 million, the company said Wednesday.

VimpelCom said in a regulatory document that it also had an option to buy the remaining shares in Mobitel.

Mobitel owns GSM-1800 licences that are valid until 2013 in the country of 4.7 million, VimpelCom said.

After closing the deal, the mobile operator plans to hold a tender to buy equipment and start construction and development of the network's infrastructure. (Reuters)

Mazeikiu Denies Shortages

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Mazeikiu Nafta, which runs Lithuania's only oil refinery, denied having difficulties getting supplies of crude oil from Russia.

Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Rytas reported that supplies to Mazeikiu fell to 32,000 tons Tuesday from an average of 38,000 tons in the past three weeks and 42,000 tons in earlier months. Mazeikiu spokesman Giedrius Karsokas said Wednesday the newspaper's statements and numbers were erroneous, adding that it was normal for supplies to fluctuate from day to day.

PKN Orlen, Poland's biggest oil refiner and fuel retailer, is buying Mazeikiu, which gets all its crude from Russia, for $2.34 billion. LUKoil, the country's biggest oil producer, said in June that Orlen might struggle to buy crude because it could be more profitable for Russian companies to sell to other refiners. (Bloomberg)

Svyazinvest to Be Dissolved?

Svyazinvest, the country's national fixed-line operator, should be privatized or dissolved as a holding company to end its inefficient management, Kommersant cited Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref as saying.

Gref on July 8 wrote a letter to First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev asking him to speed up the sale of the government's 75 percent stake in the company, which manages and controls seven regional fixed-line operators and Rostelecom, a long-distance calls provider. (Bloomberg)

VEB Record $800M Loan

LONDON -- State bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB, on Wednesday signed an $800 million syndicated loan that pays a margin of 35 basis points over Libor, the lowest for a Russian bank borrower to date, the lenders said in a statement.

The loan amount was increased from $500 million after an oversubscription and lenders' commitments were also scaled back. (Reuters)

$50M Soccer Sponsorship

The country's Football Union won a $50 million sponsorship deal with insurance company Rosgosstrakh that may help the national soccer team go to the World Cup finals four years from now, Interfax said.

The deal includes financial support for the Football Union and the Russian Premier League, as well as promoting televised games between professional teams, the news service said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

Power Firm Starts Trading

A new power generation firm began trading on Moscow's exchange on Wednesday, one of a series of companies spun off from electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems.

Traders said the market debut of the firm, known by its acronym TGK-6, is one step forward for UES in its drive to transform itself into a competitive business operating on market principles.

"This is one part of Russia where reforms are coming out and restructuring is going on. Our investors are interested," said Nick Mokhoff, head of sales trading at UBS in Moscow. (Reuters)

Theft Delays St. Pete Trains

Thieves stole copper cabling from a half-kilometer stretch of the railway running between Moscow and St. Petersburg, causing delays to dozens of trains before this weekend's Group of Eight summit.

Sixty-six trains were delayed from 30 minutes to two hours, on average, beginning at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, said Vladimir Zemensky, spokesman for the Oktyabrsky district railroad.

It took the railway close to 12 hours to restore full service, he said. (AP)