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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Conoco Buoyant on LUKoil

LONDON -- ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva is confident the company will sign a joint venture with LUKoil within the next 12 months, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing an interview with Mulva.

Mulva, who is also chairman, told the Journal that the project would not necessarily take place in Russia.

ConocoPhillips has a 20 percent stake in LUKoil. (Bloomberg)

Power Machines Stake Sale?

Unified Energy Systems said that it may sell a stake in Power Machines at an auction in one lot, Interfax said Friday, citing an unidentified person familiar with the situation.

The sale has not yet been agreed by the government, which is UES' biggest shareholder. The possible sale of the stake will be discussed at a UES board meeting March 30, Interfax said. (Bloomberg)

Golden Telecom Wins Suit

Fixed-line telephone firm Golden Telecom said it won a lawsuit against the tax inspectorate regarding the 2004-05 tax audit of EDN Sovintel, the company's wholly owned subsidiary.

In September 2006, the Tax Inspectorate claimed that Sovintel owed taxes, fines and penalties of $21.9 million for 2004 and 2005, the company said Friday. (Reuters)

Volga-Balt to Cost $462M

ST. PETERSBURG -- Russia has valued the first stage of revamping the 6,500-kilometer Volgo-Balt canal network that links the Volga oil region to the Baltic at 12 billion rubles ($462 million), an official said Friday.

Alexander Davydenko, head of the Federal Sea and River Transportation Agency, said that half of the money would come from the state investment fund and half from private firms who will be given concessionary deals. (Reuters)

Instant Clearings Planned

MICEX plans to introduce a system for instant clearing of large trades, Kommersant reported Friday, citing Gennady Margolit, the deputy CEO of the exchange.

The new system will allow deals of more than 1 billion rubles ($38.5 million) to be cleared as soon as they are completed, the newspaper reported, without specifying when the change would take place. (Bloomberg)

No Maternity Benefit Limit

The Constitutional Court ruled a law that caps maternity benefits violates the country's basic legal code, Izvestia reported Friday.

Monthly payments that are meant to equal half of a woman's salary are capped at 16,125 rubles ($620), Izvestia said. The State Duma should amend the law within six months, the presiding judge ruled, the paper said. (Bloomberg)

Gold Exporters to Get Loans

Nomos Bank increased a loan to finance gold producers by almost two-fold to $185 million amid demand from foreign banks.

Nomos received a one-year loan for $91.75 million and an 18-month loan for $93.25 million from a group of foreign banks.

The loans will be used to finance the export operations of 13 gold producers in Russia. (Bloomberg)

Belarus Arms to Venezuela?

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Venezuela is considering the purchase of an air defense missile system from Belarus that was recently acquired by Iran, El Universal newspaper said Friday.

Defense Minister Raul Baduel and senior Venezuelan military officials met their Belarusian counterparts to evaluate all options, including the purchase of so-called Tor M1 missiles, El Universal said. (Bloomberg)

Russian Copper Ups Sales

Russian Copper said sales almost doubled last year to a record $1.04 billion on rising output and prices, Interfax reported Friday.

Net income more than quadrupled to $142 million from $432.4 million a year earlier, the closely held company said in a bond memorandum, the agency reported.

Russian Copper operates zinc and copper mines in the southern part of the country and in neighboring Kazakhstan. (Bloomberg)

Refinery in Upgrade Talks

Gazprom Neft is in talks to upgrade a North Korean refinery and help the communist country alleviate chronic energy shortages.

"We're looking at projects in many countries, including North Korea," Gazprom Neft spokeswoman Natalya Vyalkina said Friday. (Bloomberg)

Cyprus Oil Gets Bid Interest

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Exxon Mobil, BP, Total and LUKoil are among eight companies that expressed interest in bidding for oil exploration rights off the coast of Cyprus, the International Oil Daily said Friday.

The companies have purchased a seismic survey of the area for which Cyprus offered exploration rights Feb. 15, the newspaper said, citing Solon Kassinis, director of energy at Cyprus's industry ministry. (Bloomberg)

URSA May Raise $425M

URSA Bank plans to sell new shares worth about $425 million to capture a larger share of the lending market in the region.

URSA, the second-largest bank by branches in Siberia after Sberbank, the state-controlled savings bank, plans to sell 194 million preferred shares in the second quarter, Igor Kim, the bank's largest shareholder, said Friday in London. (Bloomberg)