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Business Obzor - May and June
3 July 2007
Business Obzor - May and June

News "Obzor" for May-July
By Eugene Ivanov, InnoCentive.com
and Josh Wilson, SRAS.org, ACG.ru, USRCCNE.org


Travel

Lawyer speaks up for Aeroflot
Dimitry Afanasiev is a man on a mission. The top Russian lawyer, managing partner of a leading Moscow and St Petersburg practice consisting of 100 lawyers, wants to clean up once and for all the image of Russian business.

Moscow Dearest
The Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2007 published by Mercer Human Resource Consulting has caused a bit of confusion around the world, just as it did last year. "Moscow ranks as the world's priciest city," writes The Associated Press. But is this true?

Visa Regime Eased With 24 Countries
"This is one of the components of the long-term goal of a visa-free regime," Mark Franco, head of the European Commission's delegation to Russia, said at a news conference.

War, peace and new gateways to the East
Intrepid travellers seeking a fresh challenge will soon be able to plug into a huge network of flights to Russia.

General Economic Stats

IMF Issues New Russia Report
Finds the Russian economy healthy, but in need of investment and reform.

Russia's economic bandwagon rolls on despite major problems
Several events this week cast interesting light on Russia's economy, and the different perceptions of the country here and abroad.

Russians Concerned About Large Wealth Gap
A wealth gap between rich and poor and a city-country split are the two key alienating factors in modern Russia, according to a new study compiled by a group of sociologists, historians and journalists which was presented to the media on Thursday.

A Global Economic and Political Center of Influence
Russia isnt just an economic hub of the CIS. It is a global economic and financial center in its own right.

Moscow Ranks Last In Business Survey
Moscow needs to create a positive spin for itself abroad to shed its image as a city with lots of money but no organization.

Russia's 2008 state debt to hit historical low
Russia's state debt in 2008 will total 8.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and will be the lowest in the country's history, the finance minister said Monday.

A Chicken in Every Pot... 
Ivanov said that by 2020 Russia "might, in fact must, become the fifth biggest economy in the world, and by PPP its per capita GDP should reach 30.000 US 2005 dollars."

Russian realities
Some 6,000 delegates attended the St Petersburg economic forum in Russia last weekend, including more than 100 chief executives of leading global companies.

Oil and Gas

Kremlin lays claim to huge chunk of oil-rich North Pole
It is already the world's biggest country, spanning 11 time zones and stretching from Europe to the far east. But yesterday Russia signalled its intention to get even bigger by announcing an audacious plan to annex a vast 460,000 square mile chunk of the frozen and ice-encrusted Arctic.
 

Deal Signed Between Belarus and Gazprom 
Gazprom has struck a deal with Belarus to acquire a 50% stake in Beltransgaz for $2.5 billion.

Gazprom and Norway May Cooperate in the Development of the Shtokman Gas Field
Gazprom and Norway officials discussed in Moscow the prospecs of cooperation on the exploration of offshore gas and oil field, including the vast Shtokman gas field. 

TNK-BP Sells Kovytka Stake to Gazprom  
Facing the loss of it's licence, TNK-BP sells its stake in its largest natural gas project in Russia for a knock-down price.

Rosneft Wins $6.8 Billion Yukos Sale, Becomes Russia Oil Leader
OAO Rosneft, the Russian oil company chaired by President Vladimir Putin's deputy chief of staff, won an auction for OAO Yukos's Oil Co.'s largest unit to become the country's biggest crude producer.

Gazprom says new gas pipeline no threat to others
Gazprom and Italian oil company Eni's project to build a big pipeline to take Russian gas under the Black Sea to Europe does not threaten other projects in the region, Gazprom said on Sunday.

Oil shortage looming for Russia
Oil production in Russia is becoming increasingly less profitable.

Moscow Considers Enormous Investment to Gas Sector
Implementing the program would require 2.4 trillion rubles (about $92.1 billion) in investment by 2030.

Yukos

PwC Withdraws a Decade of Yukos Audits
The Russian unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers withdrew its audits for oil giant OAO Yukos, a boost to Russian prosecutors who have portrayed the bankrupt company as a massive tax-evasion and money-laundering scheme.

Little-Known Company Purchases Yukos' HQ
A little-known Russian company, OOO Prana, on Friday bought the last remaining assets of the bankrupt Yukos oil company, including its headquarters building, for 100.092 billion rubles ($3.87 billion), beating out Russian state oil company Rosneft.

Yukos' Tax Debt Is Transferred into Federal Budget 
Following the suggestion of President Putin during his address to the Federal Assembly, the State Dumas Budget Committee has approved a bill transferring bankrupt Yukos tax debt (roughly $5 billion) into state budget.

Infrastructure

Russia: Muscovites Remain In The Dark About Energy Saving
In January 2006, temperatures in Moscow plummeted to a record minus-35 degrees Celsius, prompting millions of Muscovites to plug in their electric heaters.

Russian power generation needs foreign investment
According to Russian electricity monopoly RAO UES, $30 billion will be invested in the sector in 2008, including $3.2 billion from the federal budget. The company said that aggregate investment had soared from $2 billion in 2005 to $20 billion in 2006.

EBRD to Boost Investments in Russian Infastructure 
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has revealed plans to invest some $5 billion in infrastructure projects.

Businesses and Markets

Coca-Cola to Invest $ 1.5 Billion in Russia
Coca-Cola Company plans to invest $ 1.5 billion into production development in Russia within the next 5-8 years.

Mouse Ears Over Moscow
Disney, already a force in Russia, is set to make local movies and launch a TV channel By Jason Bush

Russia Bids to Become a Tech Tiger
Putin is pouring billions into boosting the tech sector. The country has a skilled workforce­but cronyism and copyright issues pose problems.

Russia's new hobby - high technologies
High technologies have become one of the fastest developing sectors of the Russian economy. Their growth rates are among the highest in the world.

Kemerovo Region Mine Accident Claims 38 Lives
A methane gas explosion at the Yubileinaya mine in the Kemerovo region on May 24 has claimed lives of 38 people.

To heal Russia's ailing health system, Kremlin must tackle corrupt doctors, nurses
Although like any Russian he was entitled to free treatment, he says the doctors strongly suggested he pay $4,500 (3,500) into their St. Petersburg hospital's bank account, or be deprived proper care and perhaps not even survive.

Illegal Drinks Constitute Almost 50% Of Russian Alcohol Market
Illegal drinks constitute almost 50% of the Russian alcohol market and, as a result, state coffers are losing 45-55 billion rubles a year, an Audit Chamber press release says.

Bloomberg News Blooms in Russia
ABC, CBS, and NBC apparently have closed their bureaus in Moscow, or greatly reduced them. The big exception among the international media is Bloomberg News.

Russia's Growth Is Fueling A Home-Building Surge Growth
Strong economic growth, rising incomes and wider access to mortgage financing in Russia have fueled a home-building surge in a market where outdated Soviet-era housing blocs still predominate.

Russians hungry for American-style grub
A chain of 194 restaurants, operating under such familiar names as T.G.I. Friday's and Benihana hauled in $219 million in revenue from 12.5 million meal tabs last year.

Small Business Expands
Russia has more than 1 million small firms and the per-firm employment stepped up 6.7 percent.

The end of the wilderness: bears starve as poachers pillage
Remote Kamchatka faces ecological meltdown as fish stocks are obliterated.

Kremlin Extends Contract with U.S. KetchumRussias authorities have extended the contract with Ketchum Inc., which is the PR agency of the United States, said Dmitry Peskov, first deputy of presidents briefer. Ketchum will continue rendering services to Russia in the United States and worldwide.

Russian Art Worth of $86.7 Million Go On Sale
Three auction houses in London, including Sothebys, offer this week more than 1,000 lots of Russian art that could sell for as much as $86.7 million.

The Russians are coming
From Fabergé to Léon Bakst...

Investements and Investing

Russia's Venture Capital Boom
Tech startups in the Federation are coming of age and starting to attract serious VC funding.

Is Russia's RTS Index Poised for Summer Fling?
If history is a guide, the slump may be over....

Russia's Stock Market Slide is All About Rhetoric
Rather than criticize Putins sometimes heavy-handed tactics, investors and America should embrace him. If we dont, China will.

Russia placed third globally after 2006 IPO results
Russia's companies were placed third in the world in terms of fundraising through initial public offerings in 2006, a leading auditor said Thursday.

DFI in Russia to Reach $30 Bill in 2007
Direct Foreign Investment in Russia will reach $30 billion, according to Alexei Kudrin, Russias Finance Minister  

Investors in Russia confident despite tensions
More than three-quarters of business executives active in Russia expect to increase their companies involvement there despite growing political tensions between Moscow and western nations, a survey published on Thursday reveals.

Tax Investigators Probe into Hermitage Capital
Tax investigators of Moscow Main Internal Department are probing into the companies linked to Hermitage Capital, one of the biggest western

Western CEOs Still Mixed About Russia Despite Strong Growth
Despite strong economic growth - estimated by President Vladimir Putin at 7.7% in the year through April - the country still presents significant investment risks when compared to other emerging markets.

U.S. looks to more Russian investment in its economy
U.S. authorities plan to suggest Russia invest more money from its reserve and national welfare funds into the American economy, a deputy U.S. treasury secretary said.

WTO

Russia WTO Entry in 2007 Still Possible
On the sidelines of the St. Petersburg economic forum, Suzan Schwab, U.S. trade representative, said that Russia could still join the WTO before the end of 2007. She stressed that the speed of entry will be determined by Russia itself and how quickly it implements measures required to join the WTO.

Minister Says WTO Terms Slowing Development Of Russian Agriculture
The development of the Russian agrarian sector is being slowed by Russia's commitment to comply with some of the terms advanced by the World Trade Organization, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said.

Law and Business

Corruption: what does it cost Russia?
It is common knowledge that corruption is inevitable in any non-prosperous and socially and economically underdeveloped country.

The MMM Pyramid Scheme Mastermind Is Out of Jail 
Sergei Mavrodi, the founder of MMM, a notorious 1990s pyramid scheme that bilked more than a million Russians of their life savings, was freed Tuesday from a Moscow detention center.

Russia's Prosecutor General Announces Kozlov Murder Solved
Russias Prosecutor Generals Office has completed the probe into the murder of Andrey Kozlov, former first deputy Chairmen of the Russian Central Bank. A total seven people have been indicted.  

Fund manager denies Russian tax claims
William Browder, the fund manager barred from Russia for the last 18 months, has claimed a criminal tax probe launched into a company linked to him is an at-tempt to discredit him and derail attempts to allowhim to return to Russia.

Moscow police bugged phones for money
Authorities have detained a senior Moscow police officer suspected of bugging businessmen's phones in return for payment from their rivals, a newspaper reported Friday.

Russia wages war on tax corruption
The government calls for measures against corruption among tax officials.

Too manly? Ad showing male messiness, manners gets Heineken brand in trouble in Russia
Many of the beer advertisements that flow freely on late-night television in Russia target men, promoting pursuits such as fishing, grilling or just hanging out with the guys. Now state regulators say one of them went too far.

Foreign Business

Russia to Write Off African Debt
Russia has pledged to write off additional $500 million of African debt, said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. 

Russia: Moscow Turns Its Attention To The Balkans
Two southern European cities. Two summits. One loud and clear message from Russian President Vladimir Putin: We're back.

Black Sea Summit Sees Some Signs Of Reconciliation
Representatives from 12 Black Sea states assembled in Istanbul, Turkey, today for the annual summit of the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), with increasing economic cooperation and trade at the top of the day's agenda.

UK investors say Blair's stance with Putin could harm business
Business leaders with investments in Russia have hit back at the government's mounting criticism of the Putin regime, warning that the attacks could damage British interests there.

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