13 May 2010 10:27

Moscow press review for May 13, 2010

MOSCOW. May 13 (Interfax) - The following is a digest of Moscow newspapers published on May 13. Interfax does not accept liability for information in these stories.


Bashneft is negotiating with Aspek, based in Udmurt, to take over its oil products retail business, Interfax reported on Wednesday citing a source from the Udmurt government. A Bashneft spokesperson confirmed that talks were being held. Aspek was founded by Viktor Khoroshavtsev, a former Federation Council member from Udmurtia, who was appointed Bashneft president in 2009. He controls over 64% in the Udmurt holding's parental company, OAO Aspek ('Seller To Self', see also Kommersant, page 11, 'Bashneft to Get Gas Stations Through Connections').

As of April 1, there were 49 banks in Russia with capital lower than 90 million rubles, the capital adequacy threshold set at the beginning of the year, with capital at 42 of the banks lower than 45 million rubles, according to the Central Bank. When the law on capital adequacy was adopted in 2009, there were 145 such banks, Central Bank Licensing and Financial Rehabilitation Department Director, Mikhail Sukhov, said at the time. Most of these banks (122) have increased their capital since, and the rest have been transformed into non-banking lending institutions, merged with larger banks, or ceased to exist. The last time the Central Bank withdrew a license from a bank because of insufficient capital was in March ('Central Bank Exceptions').

The government is likely to allow Russian Railways to not pay dividends for 2009, and the Transport Ministry and the Federal Property Management Agency (Rosimushchestvo) agreed upon a directive on this account for the government representatives at the company's board of directors, a source close to the board told Vedomosti. The board of directors meeting will be held until the end of May, a Russian Railways source said, declining further comments. Rosimushchestvo and the Economic Development Ministry also refrained from comments, and a Transport Ministry spokesperson said only that the ministry had supported the directive. Russian Railways did not pay dividends for 2008 because of the economic crisis ('Russian Railways Won't Pay').


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev completed his visit to Turkey on Wednesday, during which the two countries signed 17 agreements, which should enable Ankara to draw Russian investment amounting to up to $25 billion. Russia is prepared to offer up to $20 billion for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Turkey and up to $3 billion for the construction of the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline. The Kremlin's generosity was intended to persuade Ankara to allow Russia to build the South Stream gas pipeline through the Turkish shelf in the Black Sea. However, a 'road map' indicating the gas pipeline's route was not signed during the visit (page 8, 'South Stream Not Put on Map').

Another project for gas supplies to Europe bypassing Russia is taking shape. The joint venture AGRI to ship Azeri gas to Romania through Georgia should be registered by June 12. The project envisions the construction of a gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Georgia, where a gas liquefaction plant should be built to further transport LNG to the EU by tankers. Experts believe Russia will not obstruct the project because of its small scale (page 11, 'Azeri Gas to Go to Europe by Sea').

Oleg Deripaska, the owner and general director of the Basic Element holding group, visited the Prosecutor General's Office headquarters on Wednesday to be questioned by Fernando Andreu, a judge of the National Audience of Spain, the country's top criminal court. Deripaska and Urals Mining and Metals Company (UMMC) owner Iskandar Makhmudov are figuring in a money laundering case involving the so-called Izmailovo criminal group, which is being investigated by Spanish authorities (page 1, 'Oleg Deripaska Could Not Keep Silent As An Honest Man').