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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Reserves Fall on Payment

The country's foreign currency and gold reserves, the world's third-largest, fell as the nation paid out $23.7 billion to settle its entire debt to the Paris Club of creditor nations.

The reserves fell to $275 billion in the week ending Aug. 18, the Central Bank said in an e-mailed statement Thursday, down $2 billion. The reserves had added $10.1 billion in the seven days to Aug. 11, the biggest-ever weekly increase. (Bloomberg)

Foreign Debt Sinks

Foreign debt fell to $72.9 billion as of July 1, excluding the nation's repayment of its debt to the Paris Club of creditor nations, the Finance Ministry said.

The debt fell to $72.9 billion at the end of the first half, from $75.2 billion on April 1, the ministry said in a statement posted on its web site Thursday. That included the sum owed to the Paris Club of creditor nations, which Russia repaid in full on Aug. 21. (Bloomberg)

Stocks, Oil Prices Take Hit

Stocks fell, led by Norilsk Nickel and LUKoil, as crude oil prices slid in New York.

The dollar-denominated Russian Trading System index lost 0.6 percent to close at 1,638.62. The ruble-priced MICEX index declined 0.7 percent to 1,446.51, with 14 stocks falling, three rising and two unchanged.

Norilsk Nickel, the world's biggest nickel miner, fell 1.8 percent to $136.50, erasing yesterday's gain of the same amount.

LUKoil lost 1.2 percent to $86.20. (Bloomberg)

Raiffeisen Sells Bank Stake

VIENNA -- Raiffeisen International Bank, the biggest non-Russian lender in the former Soviet Union, sold its stake in No. 2 Kazakh lender Bank TuranAlem to an investment fund owned by Sweden's East Capital Asset Management.

Raiffeisen received 136.5 million euros ($174.4 million) for its 7.7 percent stake in the bank called BTA, the Vienna-based lender said Thursday in a statement. The stake was acquired by East Capital's Explorer Financial Institutions Fund. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Wins India Bid

LONDON -- Stroitransgaz, a unit of Gazprom, won a $110 million contract from Reliance Industries, India's biggest private company, to build a gas pipeline in India.

Stroitransgaz will build two stretches of a 1,386-kilometer pipeline, which will link a gas-processing terminal at the town of Kakinada and will cross Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharastra and Gujarat states and end at the town of Bharuch, Stroitransgaz said Thursday in an e-mail. (Bloomberg)

Russia Buys 2 Refineries

BELGRADE, Serbia -- The Bosnian Serb government signed an agreement on the sale of two oil refineries and an oil distributor worth $1.25 billion to Russian state-owned company Zarubezhneft, Milorad Dodik, the prime minister of Republika Srpska, said, Bosnian Serb radio reported.

Dodik was quoted as saying Zarubezhneft would take over oil refineries in Brod and Modrica and the Petrol oil distributing company from the capital, Banja Luka. The companies could take over both refineries and the company in September, Dodik said in the broadcast. (Bloomberg)

Putin Behind Balkan Pipe

ATHENS -- President Vladimir Putin has guaranteed a planned Balkan oil pipeline will get enough crude to be viable, Athens daily Kathimerini reported, without saying where it obtained the information.

Putin presented the pledge a month ago to Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev and Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis as part of plans for a pipeline to link the ports of Burgas in Bulgaria with Alexandroupolis in Greece, Kathimerini said. (Bloomberg)

Chevron Denies Breach

Chevron's Kazakh venture, the country's biggest oil exporter, rejected a report that the company had breached the environmental conditions of an operating license.

TengizChevroil acts "strictly in compliance with the country's laws and regulations," the Atyrau, Kazakhstan-based producer said Thursday in an e-mailed statement.

Interfax on Aug. 18 reported that TengizChevroil could lose its production license for the Tengiz oilfield because of environmental damage, citing Kazakh Environmental Protection Minister Nurlan Iskakov. (Bloomberg)

Supplies to Last to October

Gazprom does not expect to fully use up its agreed Turkmen gas imports quota before October, a company source said Thursday, signaling talks on a new deal would be postponed by a month.

Turkmenistan threatened in June that it would halt gas supplies to Russia starting in September if it failed to secure higher prices.

"We have a deal to buy 30 billion cubic meters at $65 per 1,000 cubic meters. We do not expect to use up this quota before October at the earliest," said the source, who asked not to be named. (Reuters)

$73M for Can Production

LONDON -- Rexam, the world's biggest maker of drinks cans, said it would build can-making plants in Russia and Brazil.

A $73 million plant in Russia will start production in early 2008, and the $33 million Brazilian plant next year, the London-based company said in a Regulatory News Service statement Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Russia Seizes Fishing Boats

TOKYO -- Russia seized four boats, two of them with Japanese names, on suspicion of poaching, Interfax reported Thursday.

Patrol boats detained the vessels after they attempted to flee while near the western shore of Kamchatka, the news agency said, citing the Northeastern Border Administration of the Federal Security Service. All four were found to be illegally fishing for crab, the report said.

Ten tons of crab was found in the trawler Yamasan Maru and six tons found in the trawler Fukuseki Maru, Interfax said. Japanese vessels often include "Maru" in their names. (Bloomberg)

Vysotsk Takes St. Pete Cargo

LONDON -- The port of St. Petersburg may load fewer oil product cargoes this year amid competition by LUKoil's port of Vysotsk and the halt of Volgotanker's operations following tax claims by the government, Portnews reported.

St. Petersburg, which handled 62 percent, or 15.6 million tons, of all oil-product cargoes at the country's Baltic Sea ports last year, cut loading to 7 million tons in the first seven months of the year, down 17 percent from the same period last year, the online news service said, citing the port administration. (Bloomberg)

Yunnan Looking at Mines

CHIFENG, China -- Yunnan Copper, the parent of China's third-largest smelter of the metal, may set up joint-venture mines in Russia and Mongolia to source copper ore, a senior company executive said Thursday.

Yunnan recently sent a team of experts to the two countries to seek partners and could receive one-third of the output, Zhang Yizhong, the company's vice general manager and senior engineer, said.

"We want to be able to supply more than 50 percent of the concentrate that our smelters need from mines in which we have stakes," he said at a conference in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in western China. Currently, the company's mines supply about 30 percent of its smelters' requirements. (Bloomberg)

Moody's Cuts Pyatyorochka

Pyatyorochka, the country's biggest supermarket chain, had its debt rating lowered one step by Moody's Investors Service after the company's merger with a rival increased obligations as a proportion of cash flow.

The company was cut to B1, four steps below investment grade, from Ba1, Moody's said Thursday in a statement. (Bloomberg)

$100M of Acron to Be Sold

Acron, one of the country's largest producers of nitrogen fertilizers, said a shareholder was selling about $100 million of the company in a private placement after the country's booming economy helped push up the national stock benchmark 46 percent this year.

Aton Capital is selling about 7.5 percent of Acron for PhosAgro, which has 15 percent of the company, Acron vice president Alexander Popov said Thursday by telephone. Dmitry Starenko, head of institutional equities at Aton, declined to comment. PhosAgro may sell the rest of its holdings later, Popov said. (Bloomberg)