Today in Russian Business – Aug 31, 2010

Boris Levin, the former deputy head of Yevroset, has pleaded guilty to charges of vigilantism, saying he was driven to act by the failure of law enforcement agencies to ‘protect the interests of business‘, but continues to deny charges of kidnapping and robbery.  Price caps on basic foodstuffs could extend into 45 regions.  Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin says that the government may privatize a stake of at least 35% in VTB, which would maintain its majority stake but potentially increase transparency.  The report also contains a Finance Ministry chart showing the size of government stakes in 11 companies including Rosneft (75%), Sberbank (60%) and United Grain Company (100%).  Budget demands should ensure that the government’s privatization plan eventually goes ahead, but probably not this year, by Kudrin’s estimates.  The Finance Minister also said that there was nothing the central bank could do to curb inflation caused by drought. ‘What’s most important is not to speed up expenditures.‘  Rusal’s net income for the first half of the year was $1.27 billion, with a 42% jump in sales.  The Agriculture Ministry is hoping for a grain harvest of 80 million tons next year.  The Siberian republic of Buryatia is seeking Chinese investment for non-waste production sites so that it doesn’t have to export its raw materials.