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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Aeroflot Bid Cleared

Aeroflot and UniCredit bank can join a list of bidders for Italy's state-controlled airline, Alitalia, the Italian Finance Ministry said in a statement Friday.

Air France KLM said Friday that it has had no contacts with Aeroflot about a possible joint bid. "There have been no contacts with Aeroflot," a spokeswoman said.

Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said Aeroflot would join forces with a Western company to bid for Alitalia.

"It's a problem asset," Interfax quoted Levitin as saying. "But Aeroflot won't be participating in the bidding alone, and a Western partner will be helping it." (Bloomberg, Reuters, MT)

Economic Forecast Raised

Russia raised its forecast for economic growth through 2010, citing higher-than-expected manufacturing and metals output, Andrei Klepach, head of the Economic Development and Trade Ministry's forecasting department, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Kazan on Friday.

The economy will probably grow 6.5 percent this year, up from the previous estimate of 6.2 percent, Klepach said.

The ministry raised its forecast to 6.1 percent from 5.9 percent for 2008, to 6 percent from 5.9 percent in 2009, and to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent in 2010, he said. (Bloomberg)

Mosenergo Takeover

The board of Gazprom agreed to buy new shares in Mosenergo and take control of the Moscow power utility.

Gazprom's board authorized the purchase of "not more than" 11.5 billion new shares of the issue, the company said Saturday in a statement.

Gazprom will become the utility's controlling shareholder after the sale as the current owner, Unified Energy Systems, isn't participating in the offering, the company said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom, Korea Gas Plans

Gazprom discussed petrochemical and gas-processing ventures in Russia with South Korean producer Korea Gas, Gazprom said Friday in a statement, without giving details.

Executives from both companies also talked about organizing exports of Russian gas to Korea, the statement said. The companies signed a five-year cooperation agreement in 2003 to work out gas exports. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Technology Fund

Gazprom plans to set up a venture fund that will invest in technology applicable for its future projects, the company said Friday in a statement.

"Since Gazprom's future work is connected with projects in regions with complicated and specific environmental conditions, our demand for unique technology will increase," it said.

Gazprom is seeking to develop oil and gas fields in such challenging regions as the Arctic and East Siberia. Management approved the creation of the fund and the idea will now be submitted to the board. The company did not say how much would be invested in the venture fund. (Bloomberg)

Sedmoi Raises Dividends

Food retailer Sedmoi Kontinent said its board of directors had recommended boosting dividends for 2006 by 150 percent after the company improved profitability and opened new stores.

The board Thursday approved a payout of 5 rubles (19 cents) per share, up from 2 rubles one year earlier, the company said Friday. (Bloomberg)

Commodities Exchange

A Russian commodities exchange to allow trading in contracts on goods, including oil-products exchange, will open in the first half of this year, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said Friday.

The opening of the exchange, which the government had expected to set up in St. Petersburg by April 1, won't be further delayed, Gref said in Kazan.

Gref was attending on Friday a meeting of economic ministers from the Eurasian Economic Community, which groups Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. (Bloomberg)

Beer Consumption Up 5%?

Baltika said Friday that beer consumption in the country may grow by more than 5 percent and plans to invest more than 200 million euros ($268 million) to boost output.

Beer consumption has risen faster than the company's forecast of 3 percent to 5 percent this year, Baltika's president Anton Artemyev said Friday. He said the company planned to grow faster than the market. (Bloomberg)

Turks Boost Supermarkets

ISTANBUL -- Migros Turk, Turkey's biggest supermarket chain, will contribute $15 million to the capital increase of its Russian unit Ramenka.

Ramenka, in which Migros Turk owns a 50 percent stake, will increase its capital by $30 million to $96.5 million, Migros said in a statement Friday. The Russian retailer is a joint venture between Migros and Enka Insaat & Sanayi, Turkey's biggest construction company. (Bloomberg)

Surgut Refining Slowdown

The country's top refiner, Kirishi, has begun six months of maintenance work on two oil processing units which will cut runs by 15 percent, traders said Friday, adding that the halt was unlikely to affect export operations.

Traders said the refinery, which produces 400,000 barrels per day and is controlled by Surgutneftegaz, had stopped on March 19 two primary distillation units with overall capacity of 60,000 bpd as their old equipment needed a major upgrade. (Reuters)