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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

OECD Upgrades Exports

Russia's credit quality has been raised one level by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, indicating Russia is perceived as a less risky country to invest in.

Russia's export credit risk rating was raised to the third group, level with South Africa and Thailand, from the fourth group, according to documents published on the OECD's web site. The new rating was effective as of Friday. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil's Saudi Finds

LONDON -- LUKoil, the country's largest oil producer, said it found "liquids" after exploration drilling of a field in Saudi Arabia near the world's biggest oil field.

LUKoil owns 80 percent of the rights to develop the 30,000-square-kilometer block A in the eastern Rub al-Khali basin, south of Ghawar, the world's biggest oil field. (Bloomberg)

Polymetal Plans Debt Payoff

Polymetal, the world's biggest silver-mining company, plans to spend $320 million of the proceeds of a share sale next month on paying debt.

The miner will pay $300 million of debt to banks and $20 million paying back some of the money it owes Pan American Silver for a stake in the Dukat silver mine, marketing documents sent to investors said. (Bloomberg)

Svyazinvest Investments

Fixed-line monopoly Svyazinvest will invest $1.7 billion in its development and for upgrades, Interfax reported Friday, citing CEO Alexander Kiselev.

Svyazinvest invested $1.5 billion last year, the agency said. The company will invest in network construction, infrastructure upgrades and the roll-out of fiber-optic communication lines, Interfax said. (Bloomberg)

Alrosa Eyes Angola Jewels

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Alrosa and Angolan Sky Investments and Participacoes agreed to form a joint venture to mine and polish diamonds in Angola, the country's investment agency said.

Alrosa will own 90 percent of the company, Luanda-based Agencia Nacional para o Investimento Privado said in a newsletter Friday. Alrosa is Russia's state-owned diamond monopoly. (Bloomberg)

Dalsvyaz Buys SakhaTelecom

Dalsvyaz, a provider of telecommunications services in the Far East, completed the purchase of 51 percent in SakhaTelecom for 2.3 billion rubles ($86.4 million) to bolster its geographical presence.

SakhaTelecom, which has 260,552 fixed-line and about 4,000 broadband Internet subscribers in the diamond-rich Yakutia region in eastern Siberia, will help Dalsvyaz increase sales and profitability, Dalsvyaz said Friday in a statement. (Bloomberg)

Russian Gold Output Falls

Russian gold output declined 2.2 percent last year to 164.3 tons, Interfax reported, citing the Russian Gold Producers' Union.

The news service did not give any reasons for the decline. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil to Restart Refinery

LONDON -- LUKoil plans to restart its only refinery in Ukraine after upgrading the plant.

LUKoil in 2005 approved a $320 million investment in Odeskiy Naftopererobnyi Zavod to build units that could make more high-grade gasoline and could generate power. The refinery was shut in August 2005. The refinery will be restarted in the second half of this year, Gennady Krasovsky, the head of LUKoil investor relations, said Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Arms Exporter Shares Sales?

Rosoboronexport, the country's state-owned arms dealer, plans to restructure its assets and may sell shares in future subsidiaries, Vedomosti reported Friday, citing CEO Sergei Chemezov.

Rosoboronexport plans to create a state-owned company that would manage assets it controls including carmaker AvtoVAZ and titanium producer VSMPO-Avisma, the newspaper said. Rosoboronexport may then sell shares in its subsidiaries in initial public offerings, Vedomosti said. (Bloomberg)

Swedbank Branches Out

STOCKHOLM -- Swedbank, the Nordic region's fifth-largest bank by market value, plans to expand into retail banking in Russia this year, as it taps economic growth in Eastern Europe, the bank said Friday.

Swedbank, which already has branch offices for corporate clients in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, will open retail offices in those cities. (Bloomberg)

Starbucks Plans 10 Cafes

M.H. Alshaya Co., a Kuwaiti retailer, plans to open Starbucks' first 10 Russian cafes this year as the U.S. coffee shop chain starts expansion into Russia.

"We'll start opening the first stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg in August, then review expansion plans every six months,'' M.H. Alshaya CEO Mohammed Alshaya said Friday. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Mulls Refinery

Gazprom Neft, the oil unit of the state-controlled natural gas producer, may build an oil refinery in Armenia near the border with Iran.

The project is being considered, Gazprom Neft spokeswoman Natalya Vyalkina said Friday. The refinery's capacity has not been decided, she said. (Bloomberg)