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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Budget Surplus Hits $47 Bln

The country's budget surplus reached 1.258 trillion rubles ($47.1 billion) in the first seven months of the year, helping the nation pay its foreign debt and paving the way for higher credit ratings.

The government received 3.46 trillion rubles in revenue and spent 2.02 trillion rubles, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday on its web site. Tax revenue reached 1.71 trillion rubles and customs receipts totaled 1.55 trillion rubles. The budget surplus was 1.07 trillion rubles in the first six months. (Bloomberg)

3-Year Economic Forecast

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry used a price of $61 per barrel of Urals crude as the basis for its macroeconomic forecasts for the next three years, used in making recommendations for the 2007 federal budget, Vedomosti said, citing ministry documents.

The "moderately optimistic" scenario for the next three years predicts gross domestic product growth of 6 percent next year. (Bloomberg)

More Sakhalin Inspections

ExxonMobil's oil project off the Far Eastern coast will be inspected in the fourth quarter by the Natural Resources Ministry, which is seeking to halt a Royal Dutch Shell development, Interfax reported.

Ministry officials plan to inspect the offshore infrastructure at ExxonMobil's Sakhalin-1 venture and at Rosneft's Sakhalin-5, Interfax said, citing Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk-based Niklai Nam, the deputy head of the region's environmental inspectorate, which is attached to the ministry. (Bloomberg)

State May Cut Rosneft Share

The government may cut its stake in oil producer Rosneft to less than 75 percent to lift the company's market value by making shares easier to trade, Vedomosti said.

The government wants Rosneft's shares to be included in the A1 lists for the Russian Trading System and the MICEX exchange, the newspaper reported, citing an unidentified official from the Federal Property Management Agency.

Authorities are concerned Rosneft's shares are trading at $7.37, lower than the $7.55 at which the stock was sold July 14 in an initial public offering that raised $10.4 billion, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Neft Investigated

Prosecutors opened three criminal cases into overproduction at a unit of Gazprom Neft, the country's fifth-biggest oil producer and a subsidiary of Gazprom.

The cases were opened after an investigation showed Gazprom Neft's Sibneft-Noyabrskneftegaz unit had earned more than 20 billion rubles ($750 million) from oil produced in excess of its operating permits in the period from 2001 to 2005, the Prosecutor General's Office said Wednesday on its web site. (Bloomberg)

Ukrainian Gas Discontent

Gas-supply agreements between Russia and Ukraine still lack transparency and need to be improved, said Oleh Diomin, Ukraine's ambassador to Russia, Interfax reported.

Current agreements are "not quite perfect," Interfax quoted Diomin as saying. (Bloomberg)

23% More Oil for China

Russian Railways, the country's rail monopoly, shipped 23 percent more oil to China in the first seven months of the year than in the year-earlier period.

Crude transportation rose to more than 5.4 million tons (187,000 barrels per day), the company said Wednesday by e-mail. Oil exports through the Zabaikalsk station totaled 4.3 million tons, and more than 1.1 million tons passed through the Naushki station. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil Seeks Tax Cuts

ANKARA, Turkey -- LUKoil is seeking a reduction in taxes and free land from the Turkish government in return for building a refinery on Turkey's Black Sea coast to process Russian and Kazakh crude, Istanbul's Sabah said.

LUKoil has applied to Turkey's energy regulator to build the refinery, which will process as much as 10 million tons of crude per year, the newspaper said, citing LUKoil president Vagit Alekperov. The refinery, to be built near the town of Zonguldak, may take five years to build, he said. (Bloomberg)

Slovakia Wants Stake Back

Slovakia is among the six bidders for Yukos' stake in Transpetrol, the country's oil pipeline operator, as the state seeks to regain control over the strategic company, the Slovakian Economy Ministry said.

Yukos is in liquidation and is selling its assets, including 49 percent of Transpetrol. Gazprom said July 27 that it had agreed to buy the stake for $105 million. Slovakia, which owns the remaining 51 percent of Transpetrol, must approve the sale and is negotiating with all the bidders. (Bloomberg)

Evraz Gets Nod for Its IR

Notoriously murky investor relations in the country's metals sector seemed to take a turn for the better, as No. 1 steelmaker Evraz was recognized by Institutional Investor research group for having the most improved IR in the global metals and mining industry, according to a report published Wednesday.

Evraz was the only Russian company to make the list, which spanned 32 sectors and included Best CEO, Best CFO and Best IR. (MT)

S&P Raises Alrosa Rating

Alrosa, the state-owned diamond monopoly, had its long-term corporate credit rating raised one level by Standard & Poor's after the company's earnings rose.

Alrosa's rating was raised to BB-, three steps below investment grade, from B+, S&P said by e-mail Tuesday.

"The upgrade reflects Alrosa's improving free operating cash flows in 2005 and our expectation that this trend will continue in the coming years," S&P credit analyst Yelena Anankina said in the report. (Bloomberg)

$129M for Latvian Terminal

RIGA -- The Baltic Coal Terminal will invest 100 million euros ($129 million) to build a coal terminal in the Latvian port city of Ventspils, Interfax said Wednesday, citing Aivars Lembergs, the port's chairman.

The coal terminal will be able to handle 10 million tons of coal per year when it opens in 2008, Interfax reported. A tender is currently open for construction of the project, Lembergs said, the news agency reported. (Bloomberg)

Port Builder Posts Loss

OSLO -- Baltic Oil Terminals, which is building facilities to export Russian oil, posted a first-half loss on Siberian gas exploration costs at the Zauralneftgaz unit.

The net loss in the six months ended June 30 was 2.54 million pounds ($4.84 million), or 8.04 pence per share, the London-based company said in a Regulatory News Service statement Wednesday.

Baltic recorded a net loss of 750,000 pounds, or 4.37 pence per share, in the previous 12 months. It did not provide six-month figures. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine to Miss WTO Goal?

KIEV -- Ukraine may miss its goal of joining the World Trade Organization this year, for the second year in a row, to "allow the country's producers to get used to new laws," Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said.

The three-day-old government will review draft legislation, prepared by the previous Cabinet, to "discuss it with the national producers," Yanukovych, who favors closer ties with Russia, said in a statement released on the government's web site today. "We will join the organization next year for sure." (Bloomberg)

Stockmann Profit Doubles

HELSINKI -- Stockmann, a Finnish department store company, said second-quarter profit more than doubled after it added a store in Finland and demand rose in Russia.

Net income advanced to 43.1 million euros ($55.5 million), or 79 cents per share, from 17.9 million euros, or 33 cents, a year earlier, the company said in a statement to the Helsinki exchange Wednesday. Sales from continuing operations rose 9.3 percent, to 299.5 million euros. (Bloomberg)

Carlsberg Up on Russia Sales

COPENHAGEN -- Carlsberg posted a forecast-beating 21 percent rise in second-quarter operating profit Wednesday, reporting earnings before interest and tax of 1.64 billion Danish crowns ($282.4 million), up from 1.35 billion crowns a year ago.

Beer sales in the first half were 33.9 million hectoliters, about 6 percent higher than sales in the same period last year, Carlsberg said, adding the trend was attributable to higher sales in Eastern Europe and Asia. (Reuters)