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Today in Russian Business – Dec 2, 2009

The Economic Development Ministry has posted more optimistic forecasts for economic growth next year, from 1.6% to 2.5%, with higher oil prices likely to be behind the new momentum.  Russia’s planned debt sale may also be reduced due to increased oil-based revenue.  Workers at the Avtovaz Union claim that 15,000 employees will be laid off with no alternative job prospects via a dubious transfer letter.  The government has approved a plan to send managers from United Russia’s ‘personnel reserve’ to work at the company, whilst pledging that the company’s current executives will not be ousted.  Private Rail Freight operator Globaltrans Investment is set to buy a controlling interest in BaltTransServis for $250 million.  Facebook investor Digital Sky Technologies has announced the merger of its stakes in Mail.ru and game developer Astrum Online.  For more on DST’s sky-high ambitions, see TechCrunch.  Estee Lauder heir Ronald Lauder will reportedly engage in a $2 billion project with the Moscow city government to revive the capital’s hotel business.  Oleg Deripaska’s UC Rusal is expected to announce imminently that it has completed an agreement to restructure nearly $17 billion in debt, in advance of its planned IPO.  The extradition hearing for businessmen Yevgeny Chichvarkin has been postponed until August 2010.