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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

VAT Cut Considered

The Cabinet plans to discuss cutting the value-added tax rate to 10 percent from 18 percent after businesses lobbied for the change, Kommersant said, citing Sergei Naryshkin, the government's chief of staff.

Executives asked President Vladimir Putin for the reduction at a meeting in the Kremlin on Feb. 6, the newspaper reported. Putin asked Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref to investigate the impact of the cut and the government will discuss it shortly, Kommersant cited Naryshkin as saying. (Bloomberg)

Watchdogs May Merge

Russia may merge three Healthcare Ministry consumer watchdogs into one agency similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Kommersant reported.

The ministry created a "concept to set up one watchdog to control production and sales of products that carry potential danger to humans," the newspaper said, citing the document. Agencies that oversee medicine, consumer goods and medical technology would be combined under the plan, it said. (Bloomberg)

Wood Export Tax Criticized

Russia's plans to impose a twelvefold increase in export duties on unprocessed timber may halt sales to Finland and is contrary to World Trade Organization rules, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation said.

Russia plans to increase the duty on unprocessed timber to 50 euros ($65) per cubic meter by 2009, from 4 euros, the industry group said in a statement Friday. Russia sells about 500 million euros of wood per year to Finland, sustaining 4,000 jobs, the federation said. (Bloomberg)

Sugar Prices Drop

White sugar had its biggest weekly drop this year in London on concern that increased production from India, the world's second-biggest grower, could add to a global surplus.

India said Feb. 8 that output gained 20 percent from Oct. 1 to Jan. 15. Russia, the world's biggest importer, said it might buy 42 percent less of the commodity in the next five years as domestic consumption gains. Prices have dropped 34 percent since reaching a record $497 per ton in May, partly as India and Brazil, the world's top producer, harvested better-than-expected crops. (Bloomberg)

UES Clears Chinese Project

The board of Unified Energy Systems has cleared a project to supply China with electricity starting in 2008, the company said in a statement Friday.

UES will supply China's State Grid Corp. with between 3.6 billion and 4.5 billion kilowatt-hours per year in the first phase, with supplies rising to over 20 billion kwh from 2012 and reaching a peak of 60 billion kwh per year at a later stage (Reuters)

Moscow Market Quotas

The Moscow city government is considering the reversal of a 50 percent quota for market places allocated to Russian farmers, Kommersant said Saturday, citing a Rossia TV news report.

City authorities have rethought their approach to quota after reports indicating prices hikes and staff shortages in the markets, Kommersant said.

"A decision has been taken to allow take up of free spots left vacant by the low uptake from farmers," Vladimir Slepak, deputy head of the city's government's consumer market department, said at an official meeting Thursday, Interfax reported. (MT)

Kazakh Export Investments

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan, the top oil producer on the Caspian Sea, plans to spend more than $860 million over the coming years to develop its sea-transport system as the country seeks new routes to raise crude exports.

Kazakhstan has large reserves of oil and gas. Its main challenge is not finding new oil deposits but securing reliable transportation routes that would connect it with Western markets. (Reuters)

Freight Firm Eyes Russia

CHICAGO -- FreightCar America plans to expand into Asia and Russia to take advantage of growing global demand and try to offset U.S. market weakness, the U.S. rail-car maker's top executive said Friday.

"This is a mature market and the best way to grow the business is to look to other markets," CEO John Carroll said in an interview at the company's headquarters in Chicago. (Reuters)

Barcap to Tap Equity Boom

LONDON -- Barclays Capital, the investment bank arm of Barclays, has hired a new head of equity derivatives for emerging markets to tap into growing demand from the Middle East, Russia and beyond, it said Friday.

Nick Moreira, previously at Credit Suisse, will head the emerging markets business and be joined in the unit by two other new bankers. The trio will report to Dixit Joshi, BarCap's head of equity derivatives. (Reuters)

Socar Awards Glencore Oil

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Glencore has won Azeri state oil firm Socar's tender for 450,000 barrels of Russian Urals crude oil for loading at Novorossiisk on Feb. 27-28, a Socar official said Friday.

Socar also announced another tender for 1 million barrels of Azeri light crude to load at the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan from March 5 to 7. The result of the tender will be announced on Feb. 14. (Reuters)

TMK Mulls Share Buyback

Top managers and board members of Russian pipe maker TMK may buy back up to 1.1 percent of the company within three years as part of an executive share option program, TMK said Friday.

TMK shareholders will hold an extraordinary general meeting March 2 to vote on the option scheme, the company said in regulatory statement. TMK raised over $1 billion in an initial public offering in London and Moscow last October that was 19 times oversubscribed. (Reuters)

Reactor Cuts Power

A Ukrainian nuclear reactor cut power supply in half after a generator overheated, triggering the plant's automatic security mechanisms, Interfax reported Sunday.

Radiation near the plant was at normal levels. Power Unit No. 2 at the Rivno station automatically shut down Sunday, because of overheating in the generator's shaft, the news agency said, citing Ukraine's Emergency Ministry. (Bloomberg)

Hambro Timber Listing

LONDON -- Leo Hambro, the son of mining magnate Peter Hambro, is planning to list timber business Tynda Forest Holdings on London's Alternative Investment Market, the Sunday Telegraph said without saying where it got the information.

Leo Hambro appointed Citigroup to find ways of raising capital for the company, which has forestry concessions the size of Wales, and an initial public offering in the coming months is most likely, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)