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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Polymetal Wins 3 Licenses

A subsidiary of Polymetal won a tender for three licenses for geological exploration and gold and silver mining in the Khabarovsk region, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

The subsidiary, Okhotsk Mining and Geological Company, paid about $800,000 for the licenses, which expire in 2032 and cover an area of more than 2,500 square kilometers. Polymetal, which has five more licenses in the territory, said it wanted to capitalize on its existing infrastructure when developing them. (MT)

Illegal Imports Decrease

The Federal Customs Service said the difference between declared goods and goods actually brought across Russia's border reached a 10-year low in 2006, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

Illegal imports worth $28.5 billion accounted for 21 percent of all goods brought into Russia last year, down from 29 percent in 2005, the newspaper said. Russia officially imported $137.5 billion in goods last year, Vedomosti said. (Bloomberg)

Aluminum Merger Approval

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service on Wednesday approved a merger between RusAl and SUAL to create the world's largest aluminum producer, the deputy head of the service said.

"The FAS today issued a positive conclusion for this deal and simultaneously warned the United Company RusAl about the necessity to observe certain demands and conditions aimed guaranteeing competition," Andrei Tsyganov said. (Reuters)

Pipeline Capacity Increase

Russia plans to build oil and gas pipelines to supply more energy to Europe and Asia and protect them from accidents or disputes with countries the pipelines cross, an official at the Industry and Energy Ministry said.

Russia plans to supply about 20 percent of European oil demand, 5 percent of Asian and 1 percent of U.S. by 2015, Sergei Mikhailov, the deputy director of the ministry's energy department, said at a conference, according to a statement Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

MSCI's Sberbank Shares

NEW YORK -- Stock index compiler MSCI said Tuesday that it would double the shares contributing to the index weighting for Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, in its MSCI Russia index.

The move, which will take effect after the close of markets Feb. 28, comes after legislation took effect that removed restrictions on foreign ownership of shares in Russian banks. (Reuters)

RusAl Denies Novelis Bid

Russian Aluminum, the world's third-largest aluminum maker, denied a report that it might bid for Novelis, saying it was not interested in making high-value products.

India's Economic Times reported that RusAl might bid for Atlanta-based Novelis to counter an offer from India's Hindalco Industries. The newspaper did not say where it got the information. (Bloomberg)

Saudis Discuss Nuclear

Saudi Arabia is discussing with Russia an offer to help the country acquire nuclear technology, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said Wednesday during a news conference.

President Vladimir Putin offered to help Saudi Arabia acquire nuclear technology during his visit to the kingdom Sunday. (Bloomberg)

Rosbank Plans Share Issue

Rosbank, one of the country's largest private banks, plans to issue new shares worth 6.63 billion rubles ($251.2 million), the bank said in disclosure documents Wednesday.

Rosbank is 20 percent owned by France's Societe Generale, which also has an option to acquire a controlling stake in Rosbank before the end of 2008. The bank said it planned to issue 39.4 million ordinary shares. (Reuters)

Cherkizovsky Faces Closure

Cherkizovsky market, Moscow's largest, will be closed down this year following a directive signed by Mayor Yury Luzhkov on Wednesday.

The directive states that the market in eastern Moscow -- run mainly by traders from China, Vietnam and Azerbaijan -- will be wound down incrementally. City Hall plans to erect apartment buildings and a sporting complex in the market's place. (MT)

Zurich Eyes Russia Growth

ZURICH, Switzerland -- Zurich Financial took control of Russian insurer Nasta Insurance Company on Wednesday in a sign the Swiss insurer will not shy away from acquisitions to counter weak growth.

One day ahead of posting 2006 figures, Zurich said the acquisition would give it a 66 percent share in Nasta, which has annual gross written premiums of about $230 million, and the option to increase ownership to 100 percent by 2010. (Reuters)

Dalsvyaz Back Taxes Claim

Dalsvyaz, a provider of telecommunications services in the Far East, received a new claim for back taxes from the government, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing the company.

The Federal Tax Service ruled Dalsvyaz underpaid taxes in 2003 through 2005 by 909 million rubles ($3.5 million), the agency said. (Bloomberg)

Altimo, TeliaSonera Deal?

Telecoms group Altimo, owned by Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group, is negotiating a share swap with Nordic giant TeliaSonera and is close to a deal, Vedomosti said Wednesday.

The daily quoted two sources close to negotiations as saying Altimo might swap its shares in Russian mobile group MegaFon and Turkey's Turkcell for a minority stake in TeliaSonera. (Reuters)

Slovakian Gas Prices

Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer, is trying to raise prices it charges to clients in Slovakia, the country's dominant gas company said.

Slovensky Plynarensky Priemysel, a gas utility 49 percent-owned by Germany's E.On Ruhrgas and Gaz de France, is currently in talks with Gazprom on a contract, spokeswoman Dana Krsakova said. She declined to disclose the increase in prices demanded by Gazprom.

The increase may reach 10 percent, the Hospodarske Noviny newspaper said Wednesday without saying where it got the information. (Bloomberg)