Today in Russian Business – May 20, 2009

The ruble has reached its highest point so far in 2009 as attention turns to rising oil prices.  Economic Development Minister, Elvira Nabiullina, has said that the economy may contract by up to 8% this year.  Prime Minister Putin has expressed his disappointment that Telenor has not come to an agreement on expansion with Alfa Group. The Norwegian Prime Minister has also commented that a ‘forced sale’ of Telenor’s stake in Vimpelcom ‘should not be allowed to happen before this issue is reviewed by the Russian court system’.  Putin has agreed, stating, ‘our task is to ensure work to resolve this dispute in a legal framework‘.  The chairman of Norilsk Nickel has said that a merger of metal companies would be recommendable once the financial crisis has ended.  What does Russia want with Opel? Reuters asks.  Despite a huge government bailout, Avtovaz will cut the working week as of June.  IZhAvto’s management has decided to make 56% of its work force redundant.  The ceasing of growth in unemployment rates is, according to Medvedev, ‘not a bad sign’, but ‘latent unemployment still exists‘.