Today in Russian Business

Russia is expected to spend 4.8% of its GDP per year on a program to develop its transportation system in 2010-2015. New statistics from the Central Bank of Russia show that in January, Russia’s 30 biggest banks granted more corporate loans than the entire banking sector, signaling that smaller banks are losing their clients. MDM Bank, owned by billionaire Sergei Popov, said profit increased 66% in 2007 to $230 million. Sberbank has lowered interest rates for mortgages and retail loans while raising rates for car loans. United Aircraft Corp., Russia’s state holding for aircraft producers and designers, offered to buy the half of warplane maker Irkut Corp. that it doesn’t already own for about $456 million. The delivery of a new Russian SuperJet mid-range aircraft, “the centerpiece of President Vladimir Putin’s drive to revive the country’s airplane industry”, has been delayed due to “technical difficulties.” Concern Tractor Plants, Russia’s largest tractor producer, will seek as much as $500 million in a November IPO. Lawyers for Russia’s Federal Customs Service in a money-laundering lawsuit against Bank of New York Mellon could receive as much as $6.5 billion in fees if they win the case. RUSAL hasn’t given Norilsk Nickel any reason or plan for a potential merger, creating uncertainty and “risk” for the nickel company’s share price. The company believes it should be at the core of any potential merger with one or more privately owned Russian miners.