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Today in Russian Business – May 25, 2009

According to First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, the bad loan situation is apparently ‘under control’ and the country ‘prepared for a difficult situation’.  Other sources are less confident, predicting that non-performing loans may reach 20% by the end of the year.  Reuters has a bad loan factbox.  With unemployment rising to a 9-year high and retail sales falling it seems that Russia is in for a tough ride.  Shuvalov has offered assurances that creating a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan will not pose a challenge to Russia’s attempts to join the World Trade Organization.  Russia’s richest man Mikhail Prokhorov has registered to pay his taxes in a Siberian gold mining village.  Sberbank will join forces with Magna in its bid for Opel, which, if successful, would see Sberbank gain 35%.  A Russian Internet group, Digital Sky Technologies, is rumored to have offered to invest $200 million in Facebook.  Sibir has said it will sell shares to Gazprom Neft to help ease the debt of former director Chalva Tchigirinski.