10 Dec 2009 10:18

Moscow press review for December 10, 2009

MOSCOW. December 10 (Interfax) - The following is a digest of Moscow newspapers published on December 10. Interfax does not accept liability for information in these stories.


The Economic Development Ministry is considering two scenarios for the development of Russia's oil industry in 2010: a pessimistic one, in which a barrel of the Urals oil blend would cost on average $55, and an optimistic one ($60). Many oil companies are drawing up their budgets for 2010 in line with the ministry's pessimistic forecast ($55 per barrel) but are making different forecasts themselves. Bashneft appears to be one of the most pessimistic companies. "We consider $55 per barrel a realistic and basic scenario," said Alexander Korsik, a senior vice president of AFK Sistema , Bashneft's principal shareholder. Bashneft, however, is also considering two alternative scenarios, with $45 and $66 per barrel, he said. Lukoil expects oil to cost $60-$65 per barrel, and Tatneft $80-$90 ('$64 Billion Difference').

Vedomosti has learned that Prof-Media will conduct an IPO next spring. The media holding plans to offer up to 40% of its shares in April 2010 and has already chosen underwriters. Asked to comment on this information, Prof-Media President Rafael Akopov said only that the company had long been preparing for an IPO. Prof-Media will offer both the existing and new shares of the holding's parent company, Cyprus-based Prof-Media Investments, at the LSE. Banks preliminarily valued the company at $2 billion-$2.5 billion, and so Interros and Prof-Media Investments might make $0.8 billion-$1 billion on the deal. Interros plans to spend part of this money on repaying its loan to VTB , a source from the banking community told Vedomosti ('Prof-Media Preparing IPO').

CTC Media has agreed to withdraw its lawsuits against its former President Alexander Rodnyansky from a U.S. court, and Rodnyansky in exchange agreed to reducing a bonus he is entitled to. Vedomosti learned about the amicable agreement from sources close to both sides. "A memorandum has been signed, and I am satisfied with its terms," Rodnyansky said ('Suits in Exchange for Option', see also Kommersant, page 1, 'Alfa Group Returns Job to Alexander Rodnyansky').


The Federal Property Management Agency decided to put 25.1% in TGK-5 up for sale in 2010. The stake in TGK-5 is the only state-owned stake in a power company that is not on the list of assets to be transferred to Inter RAO UES . IES Holding controlling the company has said it is interested in buying the stake on condition that it is offered at a market price. However, analysts believe the state might charge a higher price (page 11, 'State Withdrawing from TGK-5').

The Central Bank has recorded significant improvement in the lending terms offered by major banks for the first time since the beginning of the crisis. The rates, the timeframes, and the sizes of loans have been liberalized. Experts point out, however, that loans have become more affordable only for the banks' major corporate and retail clients (page 10, 'Banks Returning Credit Risks').

BTA Bank is trying to come to terms with the holders of its bonds on extending their maturity for two years. After reaching an unprecedented agreement with the Central Bank on restructuring its unsecured loans worth 11.8 billion rubles, the bank also wants to extend its bonds valued at about $70 million. Experts believe the bank is seeking such an agreement because it is unable to sell its assets at a reasonable price to repay its debts to creditors (page 10, 'BTA Bank Stretching Debts').