Today in Russian Business – July 15, 2008

Saudi Arabia has offered to award major arms contracts to Russia in return for Moscow curtailing cooperation with Iran. President Dmitry Medvedev has approved the transfer of the state’s assets in 426 companies to Russian Technologies despite reported resistance from the Kremlin. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has called on the government to change its approach to regulating businesses after revealing that it spends nearly $7 billion per year investigating companies for procedural infractions. The Duma will begin to prohibit all banks, except those that are at least 50% owned by the state, from having names that incorporate the word ‘Russia’. Private lender Alfa Bank is to borrow $3 billion abroad this year for acquisitions ahead of a potential initial public offering. Metalloinvest is in $50 billion merger talks with copper miner Kazakhmysas part of plans to build a natural resources business to challenge the dominance of western firms. Kazakhmys says it is not planning a reverse takeover.