As President Medvedev visits China in an effort to improve bilateral ties, Rusal has announced signing a letter of intent to purchase a stake in a Chinese marketing unit to deliver 2 million tonnes of alloys to the far eastern market. A Chinese car manufacturer is apparently negotiating the possible setting up of an assembly plant in Yaroslavl. Alfa Group’s A1 unit has announced it will invest $15 million in a 49% stake in its venture with Cuba’s Commercial Caribbean Nickel to develop the country’s Nicaro mines; an area in which Norlisk Nickel had apparently also shown interest. Rumors that Russia could be looking to make an unusual purchase of U.S. corn, prompted by drought-induced deficiencies, has apparently caused a frenzy at the Chicago Board of Trade. According to Forbes magazine, billionaire Viktor Vekselberg’s Integrated Energy Systems is Russia’s biggest private company in terms of revenue, at $8.6 billion last year. RFE/RL has a lengthy report on how Russia is trying to retain a foothold in former satellite the Czech Republic, via a ‘dizzying web of shell companies’.