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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Deripaska's Strabag Stake

Oleg Deripaska may sell his 25 percent stake in Austria's Strabag by the end of February, Der Standard newspaper reported Tuesday, citing unidentified people in "financial circles."

The billionaire would sell his stake to Raiffeisen Holding Niederoesterreich-Wien, Uniqa Versicherungen and the family of Strabag CEO Hans-Peter Haselsteiner, all of which already hold stakes in the construction company, the Vienna-based paper said in a preview of an article to be published Wednesday.

Deripaska, who bought his stake for 42 euros ($53) per share, is selling his holdings in Strabag so he can pay the loan he took to finance the acquisition, which is due on Feb. 27, the paper said. He may sell his stake for less than 20 euros a share, Standard said. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil Seeking $1Bln Loan

LUKoil is in talks with international banks about a $1 billion to 1.5 billion loan, banking sources close to the deal said Tuesday.

A Russian loans specialist said that while pricing for the new LUKoil deal was difficult to gauge, it would be cheaper than a loan it got from Gazprombank last week but significantly higher than the oil firm's April 2008 loans. (Reuters)

FAS Investigates Oil Firms

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service opened a competition probe against four of the country's largest oil producers as the government seeks to quell sources of social unrest during the country's worst economic crisis in a decade, Federal Anti-Monopoly Service chief Igor Artemyev said Tuesday.

Rosneft, LUKoil, TNK-BP and Gazprom Neft are under investigation for failing to cut retail gasoline prices in the fourth quarter amid falling crude prices, he said. The companies also increased wholesale prices since the beginning of the year by 30 percent to 60 percent, he said. (Bloomberg)

Auchan Under Investigation

Russian prosecutors alleged that one of Groupe Auchan's 19 stores in Moscow sold "products of poor quality" and started a criminal investigation, the Investigative Committee said on its web site Tuesday

Snacks made of salmon and sturgeon, salmon caviar, canned crab meat and oysters "didn't meet sanitary standards for security and nutritional value of food products, and as a result were recognized as dangerous for citizens' health," it said. (Bloomberg)

Artemyev on Metals Merger

The government would gain effective control of the proposed merger of Norilsk Nickel, Evraz Group and other metals producers should it acquire a minority stake, the head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service's said Tuesday.

The government "doesn't have to have 50 percent" of the company to dictate operations, Igor Artemyev said. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil Pays for Refinery

LUKoil paid 852.5 million euros ($1.07 billion) to ERG as a final settlement for a 49 percent stake in a venture to operate the ISAB refinery complex in Sicily, LUKoil said in a statement Tuesday.

LUKoil made the payment ahead of schedule, it said. The full transaction totaled 1.45 billion euros, including inventory, it said. (Bloomberg)

Lenenergo Boosts Spending

Lenenergo, a power transmission operator in St. Petersburg, will boost this year's spending by 19 percent from 2008 as it seeks to upgrade the electricity grid, CEO Dmitry Ryabov said Tuesday.

The company's board approved a spending program of 11.2 billion rubles ($308 million) and expects profit to more than double to 1.73 billion rubles in 2009, he said. (Bloomberg)

FAS Waiting on VTB

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has not yet signed a verdict preventing state-run VTB Group from buying up to half of Polyus Gold, the country's largest gold producer, Igor Artemyev, the head of the service, said Tuesday.

VTB has also failed so far to provide further information on its proposed transaction, he said. (Bloomberg)

More Cargo for Novorossiisk

Novorossiisk Commercial Sea Port, Russia's largest harbor by volume, handled 17 percent more cargo in January as higher crude and oil-product exports offset a decline in containers, the port said in a statement Tuesday.

Turnover advanced to 7.04 million tons, from 6.01 million tons a year earlier, it said. Shipments of crude oil advanced 21 percent to 4.03 million tons. (Bloomberg)

Sogaz Buys Sheksna

Sogaz, Russia's third-biggest insurer, said it bought 100 percent of insurance company Sheksna to boost its corporate portfolio and expand in Russia's northwest, it said late Monday.

Sogaz sought an approval from the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service by submitting a bid to the regulator last week, it said. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil's Trading Profits

LUKoil said it made $330 million by trading and shipping oil abroad last year, the CEO of one of its units said Tuesday.

Litasco, LUKoil's wholly owned trading unit, generated $67.5 billion in sales last year, adding "value to Lukoil crude oil and products over and above the FOB," or free onboard value, said CEO Gati al-Jebouri. (Bloomberg)

Mosenergo's Dividends

The management of Mosenergo will recommend that the Russian electricity producer pays no dividends for 2008, its chief executive officer was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Russia's consumption of electricity has fallen sharply as the economic downturn reduces demand, especially in an industry where some companies have stopped production in some factories and have cut hours. (Reuters)

Carlsberg to Raise Dividends

Carlsberg's Baltika Breweries, Russia's largest brewing company, said it plans to raise a dividend payout on annual earnings by 64 percent, it said Tuesday.

Baltika's board recommended paying a dividend of 85.10 rubles ($2.34) per share on 2008 earnings, it said. The brewer paid a dividend of 52 rubles per share on 2007 earnings. (Bloomberg)

Bank of Moscow's Bonuses

Bank of Moscow, the lender controlled by the city's government, said it expects to pay its top managers "significantly lower" bonuses for last year, the bank said Tuesday.

Bonuses for 2008 will be determined once the lender has completed its accounts, and they are likely to be less than in 2007, the bank said in an e-mailed statement. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine Warns Banks

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko said Tuesday that the government will limit refinancing to banks which refuse to extend credit repayment for farmers.

"We are monitoring the extension of repayment of these loans," Timoshenko said at a meeting with agriculture producers. According to the state budget law, the central bank has to agree to the refinancing of lenders with the government in 2009. (Bloomberg)

Surgutneftegaz Ups Refining

Surgutneftegaz plans to increase refining volumes by 4 percent this year, Interfax reported Tuesday, citing a quarterly company report.

The oil company plans to expand its presence on "key retail markets" through the acquisition, construction and modernization of service stations, the news service said. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Gazprombank lent $100 million to Slavneft-Megionneftegaz for 2 1/2 years to help finance operations. (Bloomberg)

Pharmacy chain 36.6 may get as much as $230 million for a 52 percent stake in its pharmaceuticals unit Veropharm, Kommersant reported Tuesday. (Bloomberg)