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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Hermitage Managers Move

All of Hermitage Capital Management's Russia-based managers joined founder Bill Browder in London, more than a year after Browder had his Russian visa annulled, Vedomosti reported Thursday, citing unidentified people in the financial community.

Russian authorities are investigating the taxes paid by a Cyprus-based company connected with Hermitage, which was once the largest portfolio investor in the Russian market, the newspaper said. Hermitage has called the accusations "absolutely groundless." (Bloomberg)

Tomskneft Buy Denied

Vneshekonombank did not participate in an asset sale by Rosneft other than as a consultant, Interfax reported Thursday, citing the bank's chairman, Vladimir Dmitriev.

Vneshekonombank did not finance the purchase of Tomskneft shares, Dmitriev said, the agency reported.

Rosneft said in a preliminary bond prospectus last week that it had agreed to sell 50 percent of its oil production unit, Tomskneft, to Vneshekonombank for $3.4 billion, and that the companies would jointly manage the asset. (Bloomberg)

Putin Worried About Prices

President Vladimir Putin said consumer prices were rising faster than the government forecast, Interfax reported Thursday.

"Price increases for certain agricultural products are becoming more noticeable,'' Putin said during Thursday's Cabinet meeting, the agency said. "I am concerned about this." (Bloomberg)

Sedmoi Kontinent Sales Rise

Supermarket chain Sedmoi Kontinent said second-quarter revenue rose 34 percent as the company drew more customers and boosted sales in superstores, the retailer said Thursday on its web site.

Revenue climbed to $336 million from $250 million a year earlier, the retailer said. Sales rose 11 percent in ruble terms at outlets open at least a year, and superstore revenue more than doubled. (Bloomberg)

Yukos Unit Seeks Protection

AMSTERDAM -- Yukos' bankruptcy administrator should not be allowed to expropriate about $2 billion of assets from a Dutch unit of the oil company, lawyers for the unit told an Amsterdam court Thursday.

Eduard Rebgun is not authorized to handle the money or fire executives because Yukos' bankruptcy is illegal, Robert van Galen, a lawyer for Yukos Finance and its subsidiary Yukos International U.K., said at a court hearing. Political pressure sparked Yukos' bankruptcy and that is unacceptable under Dutch law, Van Galen added. (Bloomberg)

Sberbank Stock Split

The Central Bank has registered a supplementary issue of shares in Sberbank that will be used to carry out a 1,000-for-1 stock split, Sberbank said Thursday.

Sberbank plans to issue 21.6 billion ordinary shares with a nominal value of three rubles, as well as 1 billion new preferred shares, also with a nominal value of three rubles. Approval of the share issue, and related prospectus, means that the bank will be able to conduct the share split in the near future, an official at the MICEX bourse said. (Reuters)

Synergy Plans IPO This Year

Vodka maker Synergy plans an initial public offering by the end of this year to raise funds for acquisitions, CEO Alexander Mechetin said Thursday.

The company will list shares on a Russian exchange, Mechetin said. He declined to say how much money the distiller may raise. (Bloomberg)

UES Seeks Lenenergo Buy

Unified Energy System is in talks to buy Fortum's 35 percent stake in power distributor Lenenergo, the deputy head of the national grid company said Thursday.

"UES and private Russian companies will buy Fortum's stake in Lenenergo," said Alexander Chistyakov, deputy head of the Federal Grid Company.

Chistyakov said Fortum was in discussions to sell its stake in September, based on an independent valuation of Lenenergo of 29.1 billion rubles ($1.14 billion). (Reuters)

Tropical Oil Duty Halted

Russia will suspend for nine months a 5 percent duty on palm, palm kernel and coconut oil in canisters and other containers larger than 200 kilograms for nine months, the government said Thursday.

A government web site said the tariff would be suspended two months after an order suspending it was officially published.

"The suspension of the tariff is part of the process of removing import duties on commodities which Russia does not produce, or produces in insufficient quantity," an Economic Development and Trade Ministry spokesperson said. (Reuters)

New Piracy Case Started

Moscow region police are conducting an inquiry into two secondary schools that used pirated Microsoft software in the town of Domodedovo, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Wednesday.

By using counterfeit software, the schools caused 494,000 rubles ($19,200) worth of damage to Microsoft and breached national copyright laws, police spokeswoman Tatyana Sushinova said. (MT)

Visa Service Denial Ruling

Moscow Arbitration Court ruled last month that Visa did not have the right to deny its services to, a partner firm of recently shut down online music retailer, Reuters reported Thursday.

Visa said it would not appeal the decision, which was taken on June 16. The company added that it would make "every effort to prevent illegal use of its payment system," the agency reported.

"Alltunes has no legal links with and the two companies have different owners," a co-owner of one the Internet portals told Reuters. (MT)

Transtelecom to Go Far

Transtelecom, a telecommunications provider controlled by Russian Railways, will offer long-distance calls from next month and aims to get 8 percent of the over $3 billion market in five years, Transtelecom vice president Fyodor Krupyansky said Thursday.

The company has invested $16 million in the new service and plans to spend an additional $14 million by 2011, Krupyansky said. (Bloomberg)

Kazakhs' Atomic Plant

Russia will help Kazakhstan build its first nuclear power plant by 2013 as the countries pool as much as $10 billion of resources to prepare for a global resurgence in atomic power, a Kazakh state official said Wednesday.

Atomniye Stantsii, a joint venture between the countries, plans to build the first of three medium-sized BVER-300 plants using 300-megawatt fast-neutron reactors, and may subsequently export nuclear fuel. (Bloomberg)