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Today in Russian Business – Dec 17, 2010

During Vladimir Putin’s Q+A session, which stressed a sunny economic outlook, the Prime Minister suggested that were Ukraine to join the customs union with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, it would be a ‘powerful, important boost’.  Putin has been informed that potash miner Uralkali is in talks with rival Silvinit regarding a possible merger that would turn it into the world’s second biggest potash producer.  The New York Times reports on the shipping of an ‘instant ranch’ from Montana to Russia’s Voronezh region, as part of a Russian subsidized deal to make that country’s cattle industry more independent.  It seems that billionaire Roman Abramovich hopes to keep his political hat on.  Rusal has rejected a $12 billion offer from Norilsk Nickel to buy back its 25% stake in the nickel mine, as competition between rival shareholders Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska continues to foment.  Aeroflot stands to buy 16 Boeing 777s at a cost of $4 billion.  Why Bank of America Merrill Lynch rates Russia as one of its top picks for outperformance in 2011.