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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Gazprom Pays for Pipes

Gazprom agreed to pay $2.5 billion for a 50 percent stake in Belarus' pipeline company, which supplies gas to Poland and Germany.

Gazprom's directors approved buying the stake in state-owned Beltransgaz, the Russian company said Wednesday in a statement.

Belarus and Gazprom initially agreed on the pipeline sale on Dec. 31. The same day, Belarus agreed to pay $100 per 1,000 cubic meters for Russian supplies. (Bloomberg)

Platinum License Issued

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry said Wednesday that it had granted metals giant Norilsk Nickel a long-awaited license to export platinum and some sister platinum group metals.

"This license has been granted," a ministry spokesman said without giving other details.

Earlier Wednesday, the Prime-Tass news agency quoted documents it had obtained from the ministry as stating that the license to export platinum and sister metals rhodium, iridium, ruthenium and osmium was issued April 23 and would last until the end of 2008. (Reuters)

Gas Tax to Be Differentiated

Russia will look at differentiating the gas extraction tax from 2009 after possibly increasing the tax at the start of 2008, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing Kirill Androsov, deputy economic development and trade minister.

The Economic Development and Trade and Finance ministries proposed setting different tax rates based on cost estimates for developing deposits, including factors such as their depth and geographical location, the agency said. Androsov could not say when the government would discuss the proposals, the agency said. (Bloomberg)

Transneft Drops PwC

Transneft dropped the Russian unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers as its auditor and chose KPMG to take its place, Interfax reported Wednesday.

State-run Transneft picked KPMG in an open tender, the service reported Wednesday, citing a company statement. No Transneft spokesmen were available to comment. (Bloomberg)

OECD Membership Sought

LONDON -- The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development should offer Russia membership because its inclusion would benefit both the country and the international organization, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Lavrov said that in only 15 years, Russia had become a democracy with a strong market economy. Living standards are improving and a business class is emerging, he wrote, adding that the country's economic growth last year was 6.9 percent, making it the world's 10th-largest economy in terms of gross domestic product. (Bloomberg)

Rosneft Wants $2Bln Loan

LONDON -- Rosneft is preparing to raise a new $2 billion loan, the International Insider reported Wednesday, citing unidentified sources.

The new facility will replace its current $2.5 billion six-month bridge loan that was launched in February, the report said. Rosneft is planning to borrow $22 billion to fund acquisitions.

The new loan, which will be arranged by ABN Amro Holding, Barclays, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, the magazine said. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil to Issue Stock

LUKoil plans a share issue equal to 10 percent of the company as it seeks new forms of financing, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

The board will ask shareholders to approve issuing 85 million authorized shares at an annual meeting in June, the statement said. Those shares would be worth $7 billion at current stock price.

"This would give the board the possibility -- if necessary -- to swiftly make a decision about placing more shares as an alternative mechanism for attracting financing," LUKoil said in the statement. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil Borrows $250M

LUKoil borrowed $250 million at the lowest-ever interest rate for the firm.

LUKoil will pay 40 basis points more than the London interbank offered rate on the five-year unsecured loan, the company said in a statement Wednesday. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. (Bloomberg)

Mosenergo's $316M Profit

Mosenergo, the main power utility for Moscow, reported net profit of 8.6 billion rubles ($316 million) last year, it said on its web site Wednesday.

Sales fell 5 percent to 67.2 billion rubles last year, Mosenergo said. Electricity sales plunged 23 percent, according to the report, which was prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards. (Bloomberg)

Saudi Trains Run by Russia?

Russian Railways plans to bid for the right to manage a north-south railway in Saudi Arabia after losing a competition to build it, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

A tender for the project will be announced within one month, and the Saudi government is seeking statements of written interest, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified official with the Saudi Finance Ministry. (Bloomberg)

Alfa Eyes Turkcell Shares

ISTANBUL -- Alfa Group may acquire a further 13 percent stake in Turkcell, Turkey's biggest mobile phone operator, in return for unpaid loans, Turkish newspaper Sabah said.

Alfa has signaled its intention to expand its holding in Turkcell by asking a court to secure the shares which were offered by its partner Cukurova Group as collateral for a $1.7 billion loan from Alfa, Sabah said.

Alfa acquired 13 percent of Turkcell as part of an accord in 2005 that also involved the loan. Altimo last week demanded an early debt payment of the remaining $1.35 billion, claiming that Cukurova had breached the loan accord. (Bloomberg)

Evraz Sells Mitsui Stake

Steelmaker Evraz Group, which is partly owned by Roman Abramovich, sold its stake in a Siberian coal venture after parting with its partner, Japanese trading house Mitsui.

Evraz sold its 70 percent holding in a project to develop the Denisovskoye coal field in the Sakha region for about $94 million in cash, the company said in a statement Wednesday. A local company, Yakutia Coal-New Technology, bought the stake. (Bloomberg)

Severstal-Avto Profit Booms

Automaker Severstal-Avto increased profit 24 percent last year, Interfax reported.

The company posted full-year net income of $67 million under international financial reporting standards, the news service cited CEO Vadim Shevtsov as telling a Moscow news conference. Revenue increased 31 percent to $1.2 billion, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)