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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

UniCredit Acquires Aton

The Eastern European arm of Italy's UniCredit bank has finalized a deal to acquire investment bank and brokerage Aton Capital.

Bank Austria, wholly owned by UniCredit, finalized the deal on Tuesday, UniCredit spokeswoman Francesca Palermo Patera said by telephone from Milan. Bank Austria paid $424 million for Aton, which includes its equity, fixed income and corporate finance divisions.

The deal was first announced in December and extends Bank Austria's reach in the country. It already owns a large stake in International Moscow Bank. (MT)

Local Oil Firms Inspected

The Natural Resources Ministry's environmental inspectorate said Wednesday that it will carry out spot checks for license compliance at 16 regional oil companies.

Companies including LUKoil Zapadnaya Sibir, a LUKoil unit in western Siberia, will be checked for meeting license terms, including those governing exploration and production, the Natural Resources Ministry said. (Bloomberg)

Shokhin Issues Warning

The creation of military-industrial state holdings could harm the competitiveness of the Russian weapons production sector, Alexander Shokhin, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said at a meeting Wednesday, Interfax reported.

"Competitive products and technology are created in a competitive environment -- if there is one holding for every sector there can be no internal competitiveness," Shokhin said at a meeting of RSPP delegates, the agency said. (MT)

Koreans Scrap Swap Deal

SEOUL, South Korea -- Korea Gas, the world's biggest buyer of liquefied natural gas, said Wednesday that it has scrapped a plan to exchange shares with Gazprom.

The Korean gas supplier dropped the plan after an internal study showed it had little feasibility, the Korean company said. (Bloomberg)

UES Offers Hydro Deal

Unified Energy System plans to offer Gazprom 40 percent stakes in two generators for shares in a hydropower utility in a bid to keep the national power utility's restructuring on track, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

UES's strategy committee recommended the board approve swapping the stakes in OGK-2 and OGK-6 for Gazprom's shares in Hydro-OGK and some thermal generators, the newspaper said, citing two unidentified committee members. The swap would boost state ownership of Hydro OGK to more than 55 percent, Vedomosti said. (Bloomberg)

Drilling Starts in Uzbekistan

Gazprom started drilling exploratory wells in Uzbekistan as the company seeks to offset flagging output at its largest fields in western Siberia, Zarubezhneftegaz, Gazprom's overseas unit, said in a statement Wednesday.

Exploratory work in the Ustyurt region of western Uzbekistan will cost $400 million, Zarubezhneftegaz said. Several dozen wells will be drilled in the region's seven blocks. (Bloomberg)

Shah Deniz at Half Capacity

LONDON -- BP, Europe's second-largest oil company, said the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan is operating at about half of its full capacity and production increases will depend on Turkish demand for the gas.

The field and associated pipelines, operated by BP and Norway's Statoil, have increased gas flows since experiencing technical glitches at its startup in December. Three gas wells are now producing and a fourth will start later this year, said Andy Inglis, BP's head of exploration and production. (Bloomberg)

Indian Rice Ban Lifted

NEW DELHI -- Russia has lifted a ban on the import of rice from India, its biggest supplier, the South Asian nation's commerce ministry said in a press release Wednesday.

The ban was lifted after Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath raised the issue with Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref, the ministry said in New Delhi.

Russia banned rice imports from India in May after it found a banned pesticide in shipments. (Bloomberg)

Mars to Build New Plant

Mars' Russian unit plans to spend $60 million on building a second factory to meet demand for its pet food and candy products in the former Soviet country, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

The plant will be built in Ulyanovsk, 900 kilometers east of Moscow, on a nine hectare site, Kommersant said, citing an unidentified city official. (Bloomberg)

Norma Profit Triples

TALLINN, Estonia -- Norma, an Estonian seat belt maker controlled by Sweden's Autoliv, said in a statement Wednesday that second-quarter profit tripled, helped by surging sales of air bags and electronic units to AvtoVAZ.

Net income jumped to 12.7 million krooni ($1.1 million) from 4.1 million krooni a year earlier, Norma said. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine Steel Probe Halted

Russia canceled an investigation into the price of steel products from Ukraine, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said Tuesday.

The government called off its probe into whether Ukrainian cold-rolled steel exporters carried out so-called "dumping," the practice of selling below domestic prices or production costs, the Ministry said on its web site. (Bloomberg)

Miner Confident on Output

Trans-Siberian Gold, a British-based mining company, expects to start producing gold at its Asacha mine in Russia this year as scheduled, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Trans-Siberian is "on track" to mine the precious metal and a technical team is at the site, the company said. The company has 26 miners at the site in Kamchatka who have started underground work, it said. (Bloomberg)

Golubev Goes to Beltransgaz

Gazprom deputy CEO Valery Golubev was elected to the supervisory board of Belarus' gas pipeline operator Beltransgaz, BelTA news agency reported Wednesday.

A total of eight members were chosen for the board at an extraordinary shareholders meeting, Belarus' state-run news agency reported from Minsk, citing Beltransgaz spokesman Vladimir Chekov. (Bloomberg)

Popov Is New Nutritek CEO

Nutritek Group said in a statement Wednesday that Gennady Popov will move from his post as vice president for corporate governance to succeed Georgy Sazhinov as the company's CEO.

Sazhinov will become chairman of the company's board, Nutritek said. Popov, 53, has held his current position since 2004. (Bloomberg)