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Today in Russian Business – Jan 31, 2012

A decline in Iranian steel imports, the result of international sanctions, could affect the profits of Russian steelmakers, with Magnitogorsk and Evraz likely to lose the most.  The $10 billion Russia Direct Investment Fund has pledged its first funds, teaming up with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to buy a 7.54% stake in Moscow’s MICEX-RTS bourse (with an estimated value of $340 million).  EBRD says it hopes to encourage more stock listings in Russia and attract foreign investors.  The Singaporean trader Olam International is teaming up with Russian Dairy Company for a $400 million joint investment in Russia’s dairy farming sector, which it deemed attractive due to supply shortages and low land costs.  France’s Renault could take a controlling stake in AvtoVAZ this year; Germany’s Daimler reportedly also has its eye on Kamaz.  AvtoVAZ will start producing a vehicle based on Renault platforms next month.  Vladimir Putin’s promise to reduce state control over the economy prompted an immediate boost in equity futures, says Bloomberg.  It’s likely that Russia’s economic growth slowed last year thanks to sluggish industrial production and capital outflows.  A former construction agency head stands accused of stealing almost $50 million from Moscow’s budget.