Digest of headline news from September 11 to 11:30 a.m. Moscow time on September 12:
BUSINESS & FINANCE
*** DOLLAR AND EURO SLIP AT START OF MICEX TRADING ON WEDS
The U.S. dollar and euro posted minor losses at the start of trading on the MICEX on Wednesday while the Russian ruble posted some gains against the Central Bank's bi-currency basket (set at 0.45 euro and $0.55) owing to the positive mood on world markets as investors expect new stimulus measures from central banks around the world.
The dollar opened MICEX trades within 31.475-31.52 rubles/$1 and averaged at 31.4952 rubles/$1 after the first minute, which is 6.48 kopecks below Tuesday's close and 28.16 kopecks under the official rate for Wednesday.
The euro opened at 40.5205 rubles/EUR1, which is 2.85 kopecks under yesterday's close and 9.98 kopecks over the current official rate.
*** RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET OPENS WITH GAINS, MICEX AND RTS UP 0.1%-0.3%
The Russian stock market opened trades on Wednesday with gains for blue chips following world markets, which expect positive news from Germany and the U.S. Federal Reserve. The MICEX and RTS indexes increased by 0.1%-0.3% after the first minute of trades.
By 10:01 am Moscow time, the MICEX had increased by 0.1% to 1,479.7 points while the RTS Index had gone up by 0.3% to 1,484.87 points. Ruble-based benchmark stocks on the MICEX-RTS Exchange increased within 1.1%.
*** ENERGY MINISTRY PROPOSES 265-RUBLE GAS NRET FOR INDEPENDENT PRODUCERS IN H1 2013
The Russian Energy Ministry has proposed setting the natural resources extraction tax (NRET) for independent gas producers at 265 rubles per 1,000 cubic meters in the first half of 2013, a ministry representative told Interfax.
In the second half of 2013, independent gas producers should pay a NRET of 402 rubles per 1,000 cu m, in the ministry's opinion.
The NRET for gas can be equalized for both Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) and independent producers only after Russia transitions to netback parity.
*** GAZPROM WILL NOT PROVIDE DISCOUNTS FOR GAS WITHOUT AGREEMENT WITH FEDERAL AUTHORITY
Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) will not provide discounts for gas without agreement with the federal authority, an official representative of the Russian gas major, Sergei Kupriyanov, said at a briefing on Tuesday.
"Gazprom will be supplying information on its operations only in the case of preliminary agreement with an authorized agency. Changes to pricing policy must be coordinated with that authorized agency," Kupriyanov said.
Asked what would happen if discounts were to cause economic harm to Russia, he said, "It means that in such a case there will be no discount."
*** GAZPROM TO SPEED UP EASTERN GAS PROGRAM TO INCREASE GAS EXPORTS TO APR
Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) will quicken the pace of the implementation of the Eastern Gas Program in order to be able to increase gas exports to countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, official company representative Sergei Kupriyanov said at a briefing.
"The APR is a dynamic market. Gazprom plans to equalize gas supply to the APR with that of Europe and maybe even increase it," he said.
Kupriyanov said that a decision for Gazprom's eastern development should be approved an upcoming meeting of the gas giant's managing committee. The decision will then be approved by the company's board of directors.
*** EC'S ACTIONS REGARDING GAZPROM ARE PRESSURE AIMED AT INFLUENCING GAS PRICES - COMPANY
The European Commission's actions with regards to Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) are pressure aimed at influencing gas prices, an official representative of the Russian gas major, Sergei Kupriyanov, said at a briefing on Tuesday.
*** IN FORBES INTERVIEW, VYAKHIREV RECALLS HIDING GAZPROM STOCK FROM 'SWINDLERS IN GOVT'
The former head of Gazprom (RTS: GAZP), Rem Vakhirev, has said he thinks he and his team were able to save the company "from the swindlers Chubais, Nemtsov, and others."
"We had directly 35% of the stock in Gazprom, and other stock we distributed among our own. We hid it in various places, because in the government were the swindlers Chubais, Nemtsov, and others - they would have been the first to take it," Vyakhirev said in an interview with the Russian version of Forbes. "The dangerous Chubais was not a person for the Russian government, and will not soon appear, probably," he said.
"All of them [reformers] wanted to tear Gazprom apart, they had two actions in mind - grab and divide up. They did not know how to multiply and add," he said.
*** NORILSK NICKEL BOARD APPROVES CHANGES TO STAKE IN SUBSIDIARY
The board of directors at MMC Norilsk Nickel (RTS: GMKN) on September 6 approved changes to the size of the company's stake in its BVI-registered subsidiary NN Investments, the company said on September 11.
The decision is related to the cancellation of a 10% quasi-treasury stake in Norilsk Nickel. The whole quasi-treasury stake is 16.99% and is owned by two subsidiaries that are also Norilsk Nickel shareholders, namely NN Investments (9.69%) and Corbiere (7.3%). The companies acquired the shares in the course of two buybacks for a total of $9 billion in 2011.
A Norilsk Nickel spokesman declined to comment on the board's decision.
*** KERIMOV PREPARING TO BUY PROKHOROV OUT OF POLYUS GOLD - FORBES
Mikhail Prokhorov is preparing to sell his 37.9%-stake on No. 1 Russian gold miner Polyus Gold (RTS: PLZL) to the company's other major shareholder, Suleiman Kerimov, Forbes said, quoting financial market sources.
Kerimov currently owns 40.22% of Polyus Gold.
One of Forbes' sources said Kerimov had already agreed on a loan with VTB (RTS: VTBR).
None of the parties to the deal are commenting, and Polyus Gold said it did not comment on market rumors.
*** SBERBANK TO DECIDE ON ROAD SHOW FOR SPO SEPT 13 - SOURCES
Sberbank of Russia (RTS: SBER) will make a decision on whether or not to conduct a road show before its secondary public offering (SPO) on Thursday, September 13, two sources with knowledge of the situation told Interfax.
"There is a high likelihood" that the road show decision will be positive, one of the sources said. The road show will be held in London, New York and Moscow, other sources added.
On Tuesday, the newspaper Kommersant reported with reference to sources close to Sberbank that the bank resumed active negotiations with investors last Friday on selling a portion of the Central Bank of Russia's (CBR) stake, and that the bid book might be opened this week. Interfax's sources confirmed this information.
*** PROMSVYAZBANK RAS NET PROFITS SOAR 250% TO 8.0 BLN RUBLES IN JAN-AUG
Promsvyazbank (RTS: PRSB) made January-August net profits of 8.027 billion rubles to Russian Accounting Standards (RAS), 250% more year-on-year, the bank reported.
January-July net profits ran to 7.212 billion rubles, meaning that August profits amounted to 0.815 billion rubles.
The bank's equity stood at 72.560 billion rubles on the first of this month, up 13.5% from 63.949 billion rubles at the start of the year. As reported, the Central Bank of Russia on August 31 acknowledged as subordinated Promsvyazbank's series-13, 5-billion-ruble bond series.
*** MAGNIT BOOSTS AUGUST SALES 34% TO 38 BLN RUBLES
The Magnit (RTS: MGNT) grocery chain boosted sales revenue 34% year-on-year in August to 37.8 billion rubles, the company said in a statement.
Sales rose 32.6% in January-August to 283.2 billion rubles.
*** ROSINTER TO INCREASE EBITDA MARGIN TO 12%-14% IN NEXT 3-4 YRS
OJSC Rosinter Restaurants Holding (RTS: ROST), one of the leaders in Russia's family restaurant sector, plans to increase its EBITDA margin to 12%-14% in three to four years, the company's acting CFO Tigran Aslanyan said at a presentation of the company's new three-year strategy in Moscow on Monday.
"In addition, we expect a 10% increase in the company's transactions by 2015," he said, adding that this figure has been in decline since 2007.
Rosinter presented its three-year development program, which, in part, includes updates to restaurant menus starting in the fourth quarter of 2012, as well as the upgrade of infrastructure in 2012-2013. The strategy also foresees the upgrade of restaurants and the creation of so-called "gold standard" for restaurants (in 2012-2014 under the Genesis program) as well as the "New Generation" project, which is slated for 2013-2015.
*** BELARUS TO UP FOREIGN STATE DEBT CAP BY $2 BLN IN 2013
Belarus's draft budget for next year provides for raising the cap on foreign state debt (not counting guarantees on company obligations) by $2 billion next year, or by 14%, to $16.3 billion, or 23.1% of GDP, according to materials prepared by the government for a Tuesday meeting chaired by President Alexander Lukashenko.
The Economy Ministry estimates that foreign state debt will not exceed 24.2% of GDP this year versus 24.4% in 2011.
POLITICS & SOCIETY
*** RUSSIA WANTS MOLDOVA TO DEVELOP AS A SINGLE TERRITORY - MEDVEDEV
Russia is interested in the Republic of Moldova's further development as a single and independent state, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
"Russia wants Moldova to be a strong and independent state with its own state system attributes, including such an essential attribute as state sovereignty. We are also interested in Moldova's further development as a single territory," Medvedev said at a press conference after talks with Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat.
The Russian prime minister also said that Moscow would like the Transdniestrian settlement process to continue more intensively. "We will be making our contribution and, naturally, we are ready for a discussion open to the maximum," he said.
*** MOLDOVAN PM HOPES TO REACH AGREEMENTS WITH RUSSIA ON ENERGY ISSUES
Moldova is hoping to reach agreements with Russia on several vital issues, specifically, energy issues, Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat said.
"This visit is very important to us: we are hoping that we can reach agreements on a number of important issues, including energy issues and humanitarian issues," Filat said while meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday.
Medvedev, in turn, said he is ready to "discuss all components of Russian-Moldovan relations, international issues, and discuss energy cooperation and bilateral trade issues."
Medvedev said several documents which he says "will promote the development of versatile relations between our countries" are expected to be signed during this visit.
*** PUTIN FORMS COORDINATION COUNCIL TO IMPLEMENT NATIONAL STRATEGY OF ACTIONS IN THE INTEREST OF CHILDREN FOR 2012-2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree On the Presidential Coordination Council on Implementing the National Strategy of Actions in the Interest of Children for 2012-2017, the presidential Web site reported on Tuesday.
According to the decree, the council is chaired by Federation Council Chairman Valentina Matviyenko. Her deputy is Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets.
The decree takes effect on the day it was signed.
*** SPEAKER NARYSHKIN OPENS DUMA'S AUTUMN SESSION
The autumn session of the Russian State Duma opened on Tuesday.
"There are lots of very important and urgent bills on our agenda for the coming four months," Speaker Sergei Naryshkin announced at the first plenary session.
*** RUSSIAN PATRIARCH STARTING TOUR OF SIBERIA, FAR EAST, JAPAN
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is beginning a visit to the Krasnoyarsk diocese on Tuesday.
The patriarch's visit to Japan will last from September 14 to 18.
*** RUSSIA, EU MAY SIGN AGREEMENT ABOLISHING VISAS FOR SHORT TRIPS BY 2014 - RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY
Russia has confirmed its intention to sign an agreement abolishing visas for short trips for citizens of Russia and EU countries by 2014.
"We are working on the assumption that we will emphasize our intention to implement this list within the shortest period of time possible at the Russia-EU summit in December 2012 in Brussels. Of course, we cannot say yet when visa-free travel between Russia and the EU will be introduced, but we plan to sign an agreement abolishing visas for short trips by citizens of Russia and the EU by 2014," Russian Foreign Ministry charge d-affairs Anvar Azimov told Interfax.
*** ROGOZIN PROPOSES DEPLOYING STATION IN LUNAR ORBIT
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has proposed deploying a station in a lunar orbit, a project that would serve as an excellent goal for the Russian space industry and help solve the problems facing the industry.
"It could become a springboard for further leaps and flights," Rogozin said on Vesti FM radio on Tuesday.
The lunar orbit project will encourage the development of science and the industry, and stimulate achievements in the Russian space sector, he said.
*** 3 TRLN RUBLES TO BE SPENT ON EQUIPMENT FOR RUSSIAN DEFENSE INDUSTRY - ROGOZIN
Three trillion of the 20 trillion rubles provided for the state armaments program through 2020 will be used to modernize Russian defense industry production facilities, said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
"We will put 3 trillion rubles into purchasing modern equipment and launching our own production," Rogozin said on Vesti FM radio on Tuesday.
Obsolete equipment is the main problem facing the Russian defense industry, he said.
*** GROUP OF TERRORISTS FOUND ON N. OSSETIA-INGUSHETIA BORDER - SOURCE
A group of militants has been found in the forest on the North Ossetia-Ingushetia border, a source in the region's law enforcement agencies told Interfax.
A counterterrorist operation regime has been put in place in the populated area of Komrogon, the source said.
*** SUSPECTED ORGANIZERS OF DOMODEDOVO BOMBING TO BE PUT ON CLOSED-DOOR TRIAL - LAWYER
The Moscow regional court has confirmed an order to put suspected organizers of a January 2011 suicide bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, which claimed at least 37 lives, on a closed-door trial, according to the lawyer of one of the accused.
The court turned down all appeals for the opposite from the defense, Vladimir Kocharyan told reporters on Tuesday.
The attack in the airport's international arrivals lounge on January 24 last year left at least 173 people injured in addition to the fatalities, according to official reports. There were both Russians and foreigners among the casualties.
*** LUKASHENKO DEMANDS THAT GOVT ENSURE ECONOMIC SECURITY OF BELARUS IN CONNECTION WITH RUSSIA'S ACCESSION TO WTO
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko believes the global economic situation is exacerbating and demands that the government ensure the economic security of Belarus in connection with Russia's accession to the WTO.
"Russia's accession to the WTO makes all markets on the unified economic space a location for tough competition. European and U.S. producers and Asian companies are actively expanding to the Kazakh and Russian markets. The general situation in the global economy is exacerbating and I want to hear from the government and the National Bank how the country's economic security will be ensured," Lukashenko said while listening to the report made by the government and the National Bank on the work of the economy in 2012 and budget and monetary policy predictions for 2013.
*** OVER 380 INTL OBSERVERS ACCREDITED TO MONITOR BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS - CEC
The Belarusian Central Election Commission has given accreditation to more than 380 international observes to monitor the parliamentary election campaign, the chief of the Belarusian Central Election Commission, Lidia Yermoshina, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
"The Central Election Commission has provided accreditation to more than 380 international monitors from the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights has applied for accreditation for its 57 monitors. So statistics will keep changing," Yermoshina said.
*** NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTING INFRASTRUCTURE ELIMINATED IN KAZAKHSTAN
The entire workload to eliminate the infrastructure for testing nuclear weapons at the former Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground in Eastern Kazakhstan has been done this year, Erlan Batyrbekov, director of the National Nuclear Center's Nuclear Physics Institute has announced.
"This year we have done the entire workload to eliminate the powerful infrastructure for testing nuclear weapons at the former Semipalatinsk testing ground," he said in an interview with Vecherny Almaty newspaper, published on Tuesday.
One hundred and eighty-one wells have been closed down in the Delegen mountainous area and 13 unused testing wells at the Balapan sector, and barriers have been built to isolate the nuclear wastes.
Russia to retaliate U.S. advancement in missile defense sphere - Patrushev
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Russia is ready to implement some non-proliferation projects with U.S. - Patrushev (Part 2)
U.S. political guarantees on missile defense are not enough - Patrushev (Part 2)
Russia proposes dialog without new irritants to U.S. - Patrushev on Putin's message to Obama (Part 2)
Russia is ready to implement some non-proliferation projects with U.S. - Patrushev
U.S. political guarantees on missile defense are not enough - Patrushev
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OBAMA'S PROPOSALS ON MISSILE DEFENSE ARE A RIGHT MOVE, BUT POLITICAL GUARANTEES NOT ENOUGH - PATRUSHEV
RUSSIA PROPOSES HONEST DIALOG WITHOUT NEW IRRITANTS TO U.S. - PATRUSHEV ABOUT PUTIN'S MESSAGE TO OBAMA
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