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Today in Russian Business – March 19, 2012

A group of advisers are recommending that Vladimir Putin implement new economic programs targeting the emergent middle class as a way of driving development.  Sberbank is recommending dividend payments of 15.3% for 2011, and has outlined plans to reduce the number of state representatives on its board, as Forbes named it, together with VTB, the most reliable banking institution in Russia.  House builder Etalon has announced a 64% increase in year-on-year profits for 2011; aluminium producer Rusal is facing a 92% profit drop, as former head Viktor Vekselberg’s firm, Sual Partners, criticises the appointment of Barry Cheung as Rusal’s new chairman.  Rusal’s holding, Norilsk Nickel has also recognised a $1.4 billion drop in book value as a result of the Vekselberg spat.  The Prosecutor General has sent an extradition request to England for the Bank of Moscow’s former C.E.O., Andrei Borodin.  Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin talks to the Telegraph about Vladimir Putin and the ‘disgusting’ practice of warring oligarchs battling in English courts.  Russian weapons account for about 72% of the arms supplied to the Syrian regime.