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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Usmanov Pays $73M for Art

Billionaire Alisher Usmanov said Friday that he bought the art collection of the late cellist Mstislav Rostropovich for the state by offering the upper limit of the value established by the auction house. Usmanov told Ekho Moskvy radio that he paid ?36 million ($72.6 million) on the eve of an auction by Sotheby's on Tuesday, forcing the auction house to cancel it.

"I paid the maximum price along with a bonus," Usmanov said, adding that he had paid a commission to Sotheby's.

He said the Rostropovich collection would be brought to Russia next month and that he would hand it over to the state. (AP)

Usmanov in Telecom Talks

Billionaire Alisher Usmanov said Friday that he was in talks to increase his 15 percent stake in Telecominvest to tap growth in the telecoms market.

"We would like to increase our stake, and talks are ongoing," Usmanov told Ekho Moskvy radio.

Telecominvest holds 31.3 percent in mobile firm MegaFon. (Bloomberg)

Reus Joins Oboronprom

Andrei Reus, a deputy industry and energy minister, has left the government and been appointed head of Oboronprom, a holding company affiliated with state arms trader Rosoboronexport, the company said Friday.

The appointment came a week after the previous head of Oboronprom, Denis Manturov, was appointed a deputy industry and energy minister. Manturov's appointment appeared to reinforce the influence of Rosoboronexport chief Sergei Chemezov. (MT)

VTB Seeks $1Bln in Loans

LONDON -- VTB Group, the country's third-largest lender, will seek $1 billion in loans after its planned bond sale failed to attract investors, Interfax reported Friday, citing an unidentified banker.

Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase, the banks originally mandated to sell the bonds, will arrange a bridge loan instead, the agency said.

The banks may refinance the bridge loan with a sale of new bonds in the next three weeks, after VTB reports its first-half results, should investor demand pick up, Interfax reported the banker as saying. (Bloomberg)

Deripaska Borrows $1.2Bln

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska will borrow as much as $1.2 billion to finance his acquisition of a stake in Magna International, Canada's largest auto parts maker.

Deripaska's Russian Machines agreed to borrow $878 million from BNP Paribas, France's biggest lender, with an option to increase that to $1.2 billion after four months, Deripaska's Basic Element holding company said in a statement Friday. The loan is for two years. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Eyes OGK-2

Gazprom plans to gain control of OGK-2 after the power generator sells shares in London and Moscow this fall, Sergei Kupriyanov, a spokesman for Gazprom, said in a statement on Friday.

A Gazprom unit will apply to buy shares in OGK-2 "so as to receive no less than 50 percent in the company," Kupriyanov said. (Bloomberg)

OGK-2 Denies IPO Priced

OGK-2, the power generator part-owned by Gazprom, on Friday denied an Interfax report that it had set its price range, adding in a statement that an official announcement would be made later.

The power producer set a range of $475 to $568 per kilowatt of capacity, Interfax said, citing an unidentified banker. OGK-2 plans to offer shares in London and Moscow, seeking as much as 42 billion rubles ($1.7 billion). (Bloomberg)

Retail Sales Up 16%

Retail sales advanced more than expected in August as higher wages boosted spending, the State Statistics Service said Friday.

Retail sales grew an annual 16 percent, compared with 14.7 percent in July, the service said Friday. (Bloomberg)

Unemployment Falls

The unemployment rate fell in August to a record low as economic growth fueled a need for workers, the State Statistics Service said.

The unemployment rate declined to 5.7 percent from 5.8 percent in July, the Moscow-based service said in an e- mailed statement today. (Bloomberg)

Price Growth Slower

The cost of goods leaving factories and mines unexpectedly grew in August at a slower pace than in the previous month.

Producer price inflation slowed to 11 percent from 11.7 percent in July, the State Statistics Service said in a statement Friday. Producer prices grew a monthly 2.1 percent in August, compared with a contraction of 2.7 percent in July, the service said. (Bloomberg)

ArcelorMittal in Sakha

ArcelorMittal plans to bid for coal assets in the Sakha republic, Kommersant said Friday, citing unidentified Sakha officials.

The Sakha government will sell 69 percent of the Elga deposit, 75 percent of miner Yakutugol and an unfinished railway Oct. 5. The starting price is 47.4 billion rubles ($1.9 billion).

ArcelorMittal is seeking a Russian partner for the competition and hired Baker & McKenzie to advise it on the sale, Kommersant said. (Bloomberg)