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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Surgut Probe in Hungary

BUDAPEST -- Hungary's financial regulator said Friday that it started a probe into Surgutneftegaz's purchase of a stake in Mol.

The regulator, known as Pszaf, opened the investigation at the request of Mol, spokesman Istvan Binder said. Surgut's acquisition this week of Vienna-based OMV's 21.2 percent stake in Mol took place without prior notice, Mol CEO Zsolt Hernadi has said.

"The regulator will probe whether capital market regulations were violated with the Surgut transaction," Binder said. He declined to comment on the specific charges or a time frame for the investigation. (Bloomberg)

Kentucky Denied Chicken

CHICAGO -- Russia is halting poultry shipments from Kentucky, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday, without providing a reason for the ban.

Meat from poultry raised or processed in Kentucky will not be accepted by Russia after Friday, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service said on its web site. Russia is the largest importer of U.S. chicken meat. The country's sanitation officials have stopped shipments from six U.S. poultry plants and nine pork factories this year. (Bloomberg)

Poultry Independence

First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said Friday that Russia, the largest importer of U.S. chicken in 2008, would become self-sufficient in poultry and pork in 2011.

"We will be quite capable of supplying ourselves fully with poultry meat and pork and will work actively to boost beef production," Zubkov told farmers in the southern Rostov region, a statement on the government web site said.

The country may boost poultry production by 386,000 tons and pork by more than 200,000 tons this year, he said. The country imported 1.8 billion pounds of chicken in 2008, down 3.8 percent from 2007. (Bloomberg)

Telenor Scoffs at Fine

Telenor, the biggest Nordic phone company, said Friday that it would not pay a $1.7 billion fine linked to a Russian court case after a claim was served by a Norwegian bailiff.

The company has been given five days to voluntarily pay the claim, Norway-based Telenor said in a statement. A court in Omsk imposed the fine Feb. 20, saying Telenor delayed VimpelCom's purchase of a Ukrainian mobile operator. (Bloomberg)

Miller Scolds EU Firms

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Friday that a declaration signed by Ukraine and the European Union on improving the Ukrainian pipeline network was a "political mistake."

The document "poured oil onto the fire" of a January conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Miller told the heads of Eni, E.On and GDF Suez at a meeting in Moscow, the state-run company said in a statement. (Bloomberg)

VTB Posts Q1 Profit

VTB Bank said Friday that it had a first-quarter profit of 1.99 billion rubles ($59.7 million), according to Russian accounting standards.

The bank had a profit of 16.79 billion rubles through February. It increased reserves in March, and this accounted for most of the 14.8 billion ruble decrease, VTB said. Profit was calculated to Russian standards. (Bloomberg)

MICEX Index Shakeup

The Federal Grid Company, Russia's state power grid monopoly, will be included in the benchmark 30-stock MICEX Index starting April 27, the exchange said Friday.

RBC Information Systems, the Russian media company working to restructure its debt, will be removed from the index, MICEX said. (Bloomberg)

Russneft Not Seeking Sale

Russneft, a closely held oil producer, said Friday that it had not received a formal acquisition offer and was not seeking to sell all or part of the company as it faces repayment of debts larger than its 2007 revenue.

Vedomosti reported that Gazprom Neft suspended talks on buying Russneft after billionaire Oleg Deripaska sought as much as $8 billion for the company. Gazprom Neft does not want to pay cash in addition to assuming Russneft's debt of $5.6 billion, Vedomosti said.

"We have no concrete offers, and should they come through, they will be reviewed in the context of company development and the interest of shareholders and partners," Russneft said in a statement. (Bloomberg)

CPC Says Loadings Up

The Caspian Pipeline Consortium said Friday that oil loadings at its terminal on the Black Sea advanced 21 percent in the first quarter in comparison with the previous year.

Loadings reached 8.77 million tons, the group, in which Chevron is the largest private shareholder, said in a statement. Deliveries in March gained 22 percent to 3.04 million tons. CPC transports oil produced at the Chevron-operated Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan to the Black Sea for export. (Bloomberg)

VEB Top Dollar Trader?

Vneshekonombank became the biggest trader of dollars on the MICEX exchange in Moscow last month after the state development bank increased swap operations, Vedomosti reported Friday, citing a statement by the exchange.

VEB may be using the operations to help the Central Bank regulate ruble fluctuations, said Andrei Pashkov, deputy head of the Yugrafinance management company, Vedomosti reported. VEB probably accounted for about 10 percent to 15 percent of dollar trading volume, which averaged $10 billion a day, said Dmitry Popkov, Petrokommerz Bank's head of currency trading, Vedomosti reported. (Bloomberg)

RusAl's Guinea Plant Slowed

CONAKRY, Guinea -- Production at RusAl's Friguia alumina refinery in Guinea fell to 40 percent of capacity as a strike rumbled through its third day, the aluminum firm said Friday.

Workers at the West African plant, which has capacity to refine enough bauxite to produce 640,000 tons of alumina per year, went on strike Wednesday to demand higher salaries.

"The refinery is now operating at minimal capacity -- 40 percent of its normal capacity," RusAl said in a statement. "Negotiations to resolve the situation at Friguia are under way," it said, without giving details. (Reuters)