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Today in Russian Business – March 4, 2011

Russia’s four top telecoms operators, Mobile TeleSystems, MegaFon, VimpelCom and Rostelecom, have signed an agreement to work together on new Russian 4G mobile networks, based on technology owned by Yota (Scartel). ‘[I]t is clear that the transaction has support from the state,‘ says the Moscow TimesReuters says that Vladimir Putin was responsible for the deal going through, and quotes one analyst as saying that ‘this deal was imposed on the telecom firms‘.  President Dmitry Medvedev’s modernization commission wants the Skolkovo Foundation to help finance the placing of fiber-optic cables in the Moscow River to support telecoms operations.  The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service says that US aluminium producer Alcoa has abused its position in doubling the price of a particular alloy.  Is unrest in Libya going to cost Russia $4 billion in arms deals?  Rusal has rejected a $12.8 billion bid from Norilsk Nickel to buy back 20% of its shares. BusinessWeek reports on ‘at least six European and US banks‘ that are planning to cut back or close Russian operations, suggesting at least in part that foreign companies have trouble competing with state-run operations.