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Today in Russian Business – July 25, 2011

Vladimir Putin spends more time talking face-to-face with bankers than with oilmen, says this piece, which speculates about business aims discussed during his meetings, including the expansion of Moscow’s city limits, privatization, and mortgage rates.  This year’s grain harvest currently stands at 17 million metric tons, leading the Agriculture Minister to estimate that Russia will hit this year’s forecast.  Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has sold its 79% stake in advertising business News Outdoor Russia to an investor group led by VTB Capital.  The privatization plan will begin afresh this October, says Kommersant; the government will ‘technicallywithdraw from United Grain Company, says a board director, contradicting some reports suggesting that it would keep a ‘golden share’.  According to Rospotrebnadzor, vegetable imports from Hungary and Italy have resumed, and is ready to completely lift the ban on E.U. vegetables if no further cases of e.coli infections are registered.  Nickel and palladium miner Norilsk Nickel has unveiled 2010 profits 27% higher than for the previous year.  Polymetal is celebrating a 26% rise in second-quarter revenue, year-on-year, to $315 million.  AvtoVAZ is still yet to produce a joint-manufactured vehicle with Renault after three years of partnership.  General Motors canceled the sale of its Opel and Vauxhall brands two years ago after the Canadian-Russian consortium involved added 31 amendments to the deal, Reuters reports.  The Statistics Service has begun tracking money spent by Russian consumers abroad.  Expat executives expunged from Avianova are planning to sue the company, rejecting claims that they were dismissed for improper behaviour.