Russian News: January 15th, 2008!

RBC, 15.01.2008, Moscow 15:54:25.West Siberian Resources (WSR) and Alliance Oil Company are poised to sign a final merger agreement in early February, the Russian oil company’s press office stated today. Meanwhile, the merger has yet to be approved by each company’s Board of Directors, as well as by WSR’s shareholders at a general meeting scheduled for late February, the Swedish oil producer indicated in a statement. In addition, approval from antitrust agencies will be needed. The merger is expected to be completed at the beginning of March. WSR and Alliance announced the signing of a memorandum of intent for the creation of a vertically integrated company earlier today. To achieve this, WSR will issue 1,783,540,968 common shares, or 60 percent of the company’s share capital after the issue, in favor of Alliance’s shareholders. Once Alliance becomes WSR’s subsidiary, the Russian company’s shareholders will retain a 60-percent stake in it. The total market capitalization of the joint company is expected to reach some $2.5bn.

RBC, 15.01.2008, Kiev 13:45:33.According to unofficial data, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko’s visit to Russia can take place in the near future, a source close to the republic’s government told RBC today. It is quite possible that Timoshenko will come to Moscow before the end of January. Ukraine’s Embassy in Moscow has confirmed the fact that PM’s visit was being planned, adding that Russian and Ukrainian Foreign Ministries were in talks on the visit time frame.(Click: read more for more news!)

RBC, 15.01.2008, Moscow 13:36:43.Central Banks of Russia and Cyprus have singed a memorandum of understanding on the basis of recommendations made by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision concerning consolidation and cooperation in banking supervisory matters, the Bank of Russia indicated in a statement today. The two banks are planning to exchange information on licencing procedures, combat money laundering and sponsorship of terrorist organizations, supervise the development of the banking sectors in accordance with national laws, among other things.

RBC, 15.01.2008, Moscow 09:44:23.Russian bank accounts frozen by France’s judicial authorities have no funds that belong to the Russian government, the Russian Finance Ministry said in an official statement on Monday. The ministry stressed that the money was attached without a prior notification issued to the Russian government or the holders of the blocked accounts. According to the ministry’s statement, French law enforcement officers froze Russian organizations’ bank accounts at several French banks in Paris on January 2. These included the accounts of the RIA Novosti news agency and several deposits placed by the Central Bank of Russia. According to legal documents sent to French banks, the seizures were in line with a Stockholm arbitration court ruling made in favor of the company Swiss company Noga in 1997.

RBC, 14.01.2008, Chisinau 19:36:39.Moldova’s inflation reached 13.1 percent in 2007, Moldova’s National Bureau of Statistics reported. Specifically, prices for foodstuffs rose 15.4 percent, nonfood prices increased 11.6 percent, and tariffs on services climbed 13 percent. In 2006, the country’s inflation amounted to 14.1 percent. Meanwhile, in December 2007 alone, inflation stood at 0.9 percent, with prices for foods gaining 1.4 percent, those for non-food goods moving up 0.8 percent, and the cost of services inching up 0.2 percent. Moldova’s government proposes to keep inflation within the planned range of 10 percent in 2008.

RBC, 14.01.2008, Moscow 18:29:48.Foreign car sales jumped 61 percent to 1,645,630 cars in Russia in 2007 compared to a year earlier, the automobile manufacturers’ committee of the Association of European Business in Russia indicated in a statement today. In December, foreign car sales rose 50 percent to 178,095 cars against the same month in 2006. The most popular foreign car brand on the Russian market in 2007 was Chevrolet, with sales of 190,553 cars, including GM-AVTOVAZ’s share. Ford was in the second place with 175,793 cars sold, and Hyundai came in third with sales of 147,843 cars.

RBC, 14.01.2008, Moscow 15:24:30.Two hours before the close of today’s special dollar trading session for tomorrow deals, the high on deals remained unchanged at 24.30 RUB/USD, while the low was down RUB 0.04, at 24.45 RUB/USD, dragging the weighted average dollar exchange rate to 24.28 RUB/USD, RUR0.01 below the official rate set by the Bank of Russia for January 15. The dollar’s continued decline on MICEX has been triggered by the dollar’s almost unremitting depreciation against the euro on international exchanges, where the latter is now trading at nearly USD1.4910, up from less than USD1.4870 this morning. Considering the current developments on the domestic and global markets, the ruble can be expected to keep strengthening against the dollar at the next special session.

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