Today in Russian Business – Oct 21, 2009

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin says Russia exited the recession in the last quarter (largely thanks to increased commodity demand and high oil prices), and analysts are speculating that Russia’s ruble is approaching free floating currency status after reaching new highs this week.  Vladimir Putin took the opportunity to comment on ‘sufficiently large funds‘ and pledge $37 billion in federal funds for Russia’s regions next year.  Vladimir Potanin’s Interros and JP Morgan are creating a $1 billion fund for investing in Russian companies, the first of its scale since the beginning of the crisis.  This could be a move to prepare for Russia’s plans to sell state assets next year in an attempt to lure investors.  The CEO of UBS in Russia responded to the announcement, suggesting that foreign investors’ would be more interested in the sale if they had ‘clearer indications of where their capital is welcome‘.  Foreign investment may be on the verge of reviving, this Reuters columnist concedes, but ‘foreign direct investment remains depressed‘.  Svyazinvest has approved a move to combine seven regional fixed-line telecoms groups under state-run Rostelecom.  Volkswagen anticipates 30% growth in the Russian market by 2018.