Today in Russian Business

A review of the Russian economy in 2007 and a forecast for events in 2008 can be found here. St. Petersburg’s government closed the city’s slot machine halls on Jan. 1 to comply with new anti- gambling legislation. Under a new law, all gambling facilities in Russia will be relocated in four zones by July 1, 2009. AvtoVAZ, Russia’s largest car maker, said it had surpassed its sales year-on-year for 2007 by 6.2%. General Motors Corp has announced that it has “very aggressive growth plans” for emerging markets this year, including Russia. British packaging firm Rexam has received permission from Russia’s anti-monopoly watchdog to acquire Russian drinks can maker Rostar from billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s En+ Group. The acquisition will be permitted in return for Rexam’s agreeing to limit price increases for a decade. Scottish & Newcastle is insisting that its 50% share in the Russian brewer Baltic Beverages Holdings (BBH) is worth much more than the $6.4bn implied by Carlsberg and Heineken in their bid for S&N, “yet it is struggling to demonstrate to shareholders that this value can be unlocked.” Investors from Russia have moved to take control of what is believed to be one of the biggest gold-mining operations in Armenia.