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Today in Russian Business – Dec 9th, 2008

S&P’s downgrading of Russia yesterday was the country’s first in a decade and reflects the likelihood of a further downgrade.  The Bank of Moscow has asked Vneshekonombank for more than $1 billion in loans to help repay foreign debt, and says it will lay off 10% of its staff.  Russia’s trade surplus grew to $182.8 billion in the first 10 months of the year, roughly a 50% increase on the same period last year.  Russia has announced a ban on the import of Irish pork and pork products over fears of dioxin contamination.  If the ban on the privatization of historic buildings is lifted next year, it could prevent some monuments from falling into ruin, but cause others to be misused.  Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works has been unable to obtain the $100 million it deposited with KIT Finance.  Ford Motors has suspended production at its Russian assembly line.