22 Dec 2010 10:35

Moscow press review for December 22, 2010

MOSCOW. Dec 22 (Interfax) - The following is a digest of Moscow newspapers published on December 22. Interfax does not accept liability for information in these stories.


The supervisory board of the Russian diamond monopoly Alrosa will discuss a deal with the mining giant Rio Tinto on December 28. An explanatory note to the board meeting says that Rio Tinto is supposed to pay $250 million for 50% minus one share in Severalmaz. Rio Tinto has also undertaken to invest $135 million for the facility to reach its projected capacity of 2 million karats by 2015. Alrosa's board has proposed approving the deal, which will also have to be cleared with the government commission on foreign investments. An Alrosa spokesperson declined comments, and Rio Tinto refused to answer questions by Vedomosti. However, a source close to Alrosa's supervisory board confirmed to Vedomosti on condition of anonymity that such a deal is in the pipeline ('Diamonds for Rio Tinto').

The only deal signed in the absence of members of the press on the sidelines of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's three-day visit to India was an unprecedented contract on developing a graphic and technical design of a projected multifunctional fighter. The contract was signed by Rosoboronexport General Director Anatoly Isaikin and Chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Ashok Nayak. A source close to Rosoboronexport's management said the contract is worth about $300 million. A manager from a company incorporated in Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) said the contract envisions that India will finance the development by Sukhoi of a graphic and technical design of a two-seat version of the T-50 aircraft, known also as the Sukhoi PAK FA, or the Future Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation, Russia's fifth generation fighter, the first prototype of which performed its maiden flight in January 2010 ('Project for Half Century').

Six out of the nine members of Vimpelcom Ltd.'s supervisory board have approved those terms and conditions of a merger with Weather that do not concern relations between the shareholders, the company's press service said. The deal has been supported by the independent directors and Altimo's representatives, while Telenor's representatives voted against it, having said before the supervisory board meeting that the merger did not make sense strategically and financially. Therefore, the board did not approve a new version of the shareholder agreement (which would have become tripartite had Weather shareholders joined Altimo and Telenor) and did not consider other issues concerning the shareholders ('Vimpelcom Will Revise Deal').


Russia and India have concluded the first official agreement on cooperation in the oil and gas field. AFK Sistema, the principal shareholder of Bashneft and a Russneft stakeholder, and India's ONGC plan to consider the consolidation of all or some of their oil production and processing assets (page 11, 'Sistema to Bind Russia and India', see also Vedomosti, 'Chance for ONGC').

Gazprom has once again revised downward its gas production forecast for 2015 by 6% to 570-580 billion cubic meters. Gazprom has already adjusted several times its target for 2010, reducing it the last one to 515 billion cubic meters. Market players, however, do not believe that even this level will be achieved. Analysts agree with this and also suppose that the 2015 target will not be reached, either (page 11, 'Forecast for Skin').

A stake in Russia's independent gas producer Novatek , which Gazprom recently sold to Gazprombank, may change hands once again. A company belonging to Novatek's head Leonid Mikhelson and to its major shareholder Gennady Timchenko signed a contract on buying 9.4% in the company within two years, which will make Timchenko's stake in Novatek larger than a blocking one. The stake, which cost over $3 billion on the market on Tuesday, could also be used to draw foreign partners (page 9, 'Gennady Timchenko Overcomes Block', see also Vedomosti, 'Timchenko's Partner').