Today in Russian Business – October 16, 2009

According to the FT, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have abandoned their attempt to join the World Trade Organization as a single customs union, after WTO members made clear the unprecedented suggestion would elongate the process by some years.  The trio will reportedly attempt to join simultaneously.  French retailer Carrefour has made a swift exit from Russia, only four months after the opening of its first store.  Bad news for Avtovaz: Sberbank and VTB have declined an offer to take stakes in the company in exchange for debt.  Gazprombank had its worst month of the year in September, posting losses of $529 million, the sixth time this year that the bank has posted a monthly loss.  Italy’s Cremonini Group is set to open a $148 million meat-processing plant in the Moscow region to produce hamburgers for McDonalds by the end of the year.  The financial crisis has severely affected Russia’s attempts to diversify the economy away from oil and gas, reports the Moscow Times.  Former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has said that the ruble’s value is too intertwined with oil to serve as a viable reserve currency.