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Today in Russian Business – April 8, 2008

Yesterday the largest ever private equity deal in Russian history was announced, as TPG, the U.S. leveraged-buyout giant, is buying half of SIA International Ltd., a major pharmaceutical distributor in Russia, for $800 million. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin announced that “Russia’s economic imbalances are likely to result in slower economic growth in the next 15 years” and that “the country will face a slowdown even despite high oil prices due to a shift in its economic cycle.” Rosstat reports that inflation jumped up 1.1% in March, and 3.2% in the year to date. Mining group Mechel has announced the purchase of 100% of Romania’s Ductil Steel for $221 million. In a surprise move Onexim Holding, a company owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, acquired 32 percent of the utility TGK-4 for $500 million from state-owned UES – foreign investors were expected to win the bid. Knight Frank has released a study ranking Russia 3rd in the increase of real estate prices despite the credit crunch: “Quite different trends were seen in Russia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Singapore, Hong Kong, Moscow and St. Petersburg are large, developing cities that attract real estate buyers from many regions. They provide stability and offset the negative influences of mortgages and the financial crisis.” The Moscow Arbitration Court postponed until May 13 a money-laundering case against the Bank of New York, which is charged with helping the illegal transfer of $7 billion out of Russia. An affiliate of Russia’s Azimut Hotels Company has bought 20 three-star hotels in Europe, and plans to spend 80 million euros on acquisitions and development over the next two years.