Russian News: May 23rd, 2008!

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 14:52:43.The National Banking Board may review the Russian banking sector’s development strategy until 2020 in the fall of 2008, President of the Association of Regional Banks of Russia, State Duma deputy Anatoly Aksakov said during the association’s general annual meeting. If the board approves the strategy, the document will be almost mandatory for the authorities, Aksakov stated. A draft strategy has already been devised, and a working group to be headed by the association’s First Deputy President Alexander Khandruyev will be created to finalize it. The document is to be prepared before the beginning of the Sochi economic forum scheduled for September 2008. It must be in line with financial markets’ development strategy and provide for closing the 22-fold gap between the incomes of the rich and the poor, reducing inequality between Russia’s regions, and maintaining the country’s economic sovereignty, Aksakov noted.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 14:09:05.According to preliminary data, Russian producer prices grew 4.5 percent in April 2008 and 26.6 percent between January and April, the Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) reported. As stated in the federal service’s document, the price of crude oil and associated gas jumped 9 percent and the price of natural gas and gas condensate rose 6 percent, while a 4.9-percent decline in prices was seen within the non-ferrous iron ore mining segment. Prices increased in the manufacturing sector (certain refined oil products), metallurgy and the chemical industry, while the price of electricity produced domestically slid 5.5 percent, and the price of electricity supplied to industrial consumers and agricultural producers dropped 1.4 percent.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 13:42:21.At today’s annual general meeting, NOVATEK shareholders approved the payment of RUB 1.52 (approx. USD 0.06) per share as dividend for 2007, one of the shareholders told RBC. Consequently, combined with an interim dividend of RUB 0.83 (approx. USD 0.04) paid for the first half of 2007, total dividend for the 2007 fiscal year will amount to RUB 2.35 (approx. USD 0.10) per common share. As reported earlier, NOVATEK paid RUB 1.10 (approx. USD 0.05) per common share for 2006, with the total payout, including interim dividend payments, amounting to RUB 5bn (approx. USD 212m).

RBC, 23.05.2008, London 13:15:36.Severstal has reached an agreement on the acquisition of up to 61.5 percent of African Iron Ore Group Ltd. (AIOG) shares, the Russian steel producer said in a press release today. AIOG’s subsidiaries have a license for conducting a geological survey at the Putu Range iron ore deposit in Liberia. In addition, Severstal is expected to buy a 6.29-percent stake in Mano River Resources Inc., which holds a controlling stake in AIOG. The Russian company is to pay $37.5m for the stake in AIOG, while the price of the second deal is estimated at GBP 2m (USD 3.9m). Both deals will be implemented through Severstal’s Dutch subsidiary Lybica Holding B.V.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 12:23:04.According to preliminary data, real disposable cash incomes of Russians grew 11.8 percent in January-April 2008 compared to the same month a year earlier, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said in a report today. The average monthly accrued wages climbed 28.1 percent to RUB 16,253 (approx. USD 689) in April 2008 against April 2007 and went up 28 percent in the first four months of 2008 compared to January-April 2007.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 12:03:25.Today’s session on the Russian stock market opened with a rise in most traded securities. On MICEX, the majority of stocks went up 0.5 percent on average within the first few minutes of trade. Meanwhile, Polyus Gold, Norilsk Nickel, and Gazprom Neft traded below yesterday’s close. However, the situation changed after the first 30 minutes of trade, as only Sberbank, Rosneft and Polyus Gold remained in positive territory. Most securities declined 0.5 percent on average and the RTS index was slightly down.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 11:12:00.Russia’s natural gas production rose 1.3 percent to 56.9bn cubic meters in April 2008 compared to the same month a year earlier, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) reported today. Meanwhile, gas output fell 4.4 percent in April against the previous month.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 11:01:54.Russia’s retail trade grew 13.2 percent to roughly RUB 1.058 trillion (approx. USD 44.9bn) in April 2008 compared to the same month a year earlier, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) reported today. The figure edged up 0.3 percent in April compared to March.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 10:53:14.Russia’s oil and gas condensate production inched down 0.7 percent to 39.7m tonnes in April 2008 compared to the same month a year earlier, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) reported today. Oil output shrank 3.6 percent in April compared to March.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 10:32:04.According to preliminary data, Russia’s fixed investment grew 20.3 percent to RUB 529.6bn (approx. USD 22.5bn) in January-April 2008 compared to the same months a year earlier, the Federal State Statistics Service reported today. In April alone, fixed investment went up 2.2 against March.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 09:55:07.Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to arrive in Minsk today. As part of his visit, Putin will take part in the meeting of the heads of government of CIS member states. Moreover, the Russian PM intends to meet one-on-one with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Timoshenko, who will be chairing the meeting the the commonwealth’s Prime Ministers. The chairmanship will be handed over to Belarus during this meeting.

RBC, 23.05.2008, Moscow 09:28:15.Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will today begin his official visit to the People’s Republic of China. He is visiting China at the invitation of the country’s President Hu Jintao. At the talks in Beijing, the leaders intend to discuss cooperation in the nuclear industry, fuel and energy, and investment. Particular attention will be paid to the matter of state support of banking institutions and mechanisms. Moreover, such issues will be considered as collaboration in civil aviation, migration, and environment.

RBC, 22.05.2008, Kiev 19:31:06.Whether to increase the capacity of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium or not is to be resolved by the end of May 2008, Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister of Kazakhstan Lyazat Kiinov told an energy forum in Kiev today. He added that the issue had been settled in principle, and shareholder approvals were expected in the near future. He regretted that there had been no serious discussions of linking the Caspial pipeline project to the Odessa-Brody pipeline. This would require an additional leg of 150 kilometers, including across the Russian territory. For this, in turn, Russia’s agreement would be needed. Yet, this link is approved, there would be no difficulty in finding enough oil to load the Oddessa-Brody pipeline, the Deputy Minister assured. According to Kiinov, the Caspian pipeline would be able to carry some 67m tonnes of oil, of which some 37m tonnes could be bound via the Ukrainian route.

RBC, 22.05.2008, Moscow 16:32:35.The government board is to consider on Monday a reduction in the tax burden for the oil industry, a source close to the cabinet told journalists today. The bills are to be introduced to the State Duma during the spring session. The matter of the extension of a tax holiday to several Russian regions, as well as methods of calculation of oil production will also be reviewed during the session, the source said.

RBC, 22.05.2008, Tbilisi 14:58:07.International observers from the CIS, who monitored Georgia’s parliamentary election on Wednesday, have named it democratic. Although there have been some violations, they cannot affect the election results, the observers said in a statement today. They also noted that Georgia had created all necessary conditions for monitoring the election.

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