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Eurasian Business Briefing Economy

Russian credit rating edges upwards as Moscow keeps budget deficit in check

Russians and rouble signRussian credit rating: With its economy moving up through the gears and the government in Moscow managing to keep the budget deficit in check, S&P announced that it was upgrading the Russia’s credit rating from stable to positive, leaving its foreign-currency rating one step short of investment grade at BB+.
“External pressures (more…)

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Nurly Zhol and structural reforms set to boost Kazakh growth to 2.5% – IMF

Nurly ZholA combination of targeted fiscal support, exchange rate adjustment, strengthened domestic liquidity management and structural reforms have helped Kazakhstan counter the effects of lower oil prices and slower growth in Russia, China and Europe, the IMF pronounced this week; and, while GDP growth slowed to 1% in 2016, it is expected to bounce back to 2.5% in the current year.
Significantly, (more…)

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Russian recession near end

Russian recession: Russia is edging closer to the end of its longest recession in almost two decades as mining, manufacturing and agriculture along with stabilising oil prices, to help to steady the economy.
GDP contracted by 0.2% last year after an upwardly revised decline of 2.8% in 2015, according to data released by the Federal Statistics Service yesterday. with rising exports and rebuilding of stocks among the key drivers. Manufacturing grew by 1.4% while production of oil, gas and other natural resources was up by 0.2%. Buoyed by restrictions on imports and the ruble devaluation, agriculture grew by 3.5 %. although consumers continued to struggle, with wholesale and retail trade down 3.6 %. Construction was also off the pace and contracted by 4.3%.
“We can expect growth of 1-1.5 % [this year] and maybe even 2% if things go well”, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov predicted last month.
President Vladimir Putin was less sanguine, however, and has warned ministers that the country was not yet out of the woods and pressed them to find new sources of stimulus.

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IMF upgrades China forecast – but downgrades India for demonitisation

Chinese metal workersChina’s economy will grow by 6.5% over the course of 2017, the IMF predicted yesterday, 0.3% more than previously forecast, on the expectation that the authorities in Beijing will continue to implement measures aimed at stimulating growth; but it nevertheless warned (more…)

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World Bank urges Russia to diversify

World BankRussia needs to improve its investment climate, diversify its oil-dependent economy and boost productivity growth if it wants to catch up with the global economy, the World Bank urged Moscow this week, at the same time as forecasting that (more…)

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Beijing looks to stem Chinese capital flight and encourage FDI

Chinese Commerce Minister Gao HuchengChinese capital flight: The Chinese government is getting ready to curb its private sector’s appetite for overseas mergers and acquisitions and to encourage inward investment by sharply reducing restrictions on foreign investment access in 2017 to make it easier for overseas firms to spend their cash in the People’s Republic, according to a blog posted on the Ministry of Commerce’s website earlier this month. The government would “promote the healthy and orderly development of outbound investment and cooperation in 2017, ” Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng is quoted as saying. (more…)

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Protestors take to the streets as Modi urges Indians to join digital world

Indians protest against ban on large rupee notesWith banks overwhelmed by desperate account holders and crowds of Indians taking to city streets to protest at his decision to give the country four hours’ notice of a ban on 500- and 1000-rupee notes, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi used yesterday’s monthly radio broadcast to defend his actions and to call on the nation’s SMEs and casual work force to use digital payment channels as part of the fight against endemic corruption. (more…)

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World Bank upgrades forecast for Russian economy as Moscow looks in hope to Trump to trigger detente

REUTERS/Sergei KarpukhinThe Russian economy could return to growth as early as next year, the World Bank predicted yesterday, with a rise in oil prices expected to help it bottom out in the second half of the year. While the bank is forecasting that Russia’s GDP will contract by 0.6% this year, it now sees it growing by 1.5% in 2017 and 1.7% in 2018. Back in April, the bank was forecasting a 1.1% growth rate for next year.
While it is now expects higher oil prices to have a positive impact on domestic demand and to trigger investment activity as some of the country’s major companies replenish their stocks, it warned that the Russian economy remained dangerously dependent on its oil and gas sectors. “This growth upsurge, however, is unlikely to turn the tide in terms of building a more diversified economy,” it said.
US President elect Donald TrumpThe Kremlin will also be hoping that Trump’s victory in the US Presidential elections may put paid to one of the World Bank’s other concerns, namely that economic sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea might complicate Russia’s economic recovery. On receiving news of yesterday’s shock result. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Donald Trump a congratulatory telegram in which he expressed his hope that relations between the two world powers would improve “from their crisis state.” Ties between Moscow and Washington must be “based on principles of equality, mutual respect and a real accounting of each other’s positions,” he added.

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Pressure mounts with Russian Reserve Fund running on empty

Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei LavrovThe Russian Reserve Fund will run out of money by the end of next year, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Lavrov told journalists on Friday, confirming speculation that the country has been burning through its national reserves at an unprecedented rate. Hit by western sanctions (more…)

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Moody’s upgrades outlook for Russia and China but downgrades Turkey

Chinese bottling plantMoody’s Investors Service yesterday revised upwards its macro outlook for Russia and China, but forecast that Turkey would grow less than previously expected. The credit rating agency’s analysts are now predicting that overall growth across the G20 emerging markets will reach 4.4% this year and 5% in 2017. More specifically, (more…)

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ADB forecasts India to lead economic growth as China and SE Asia slip

Indian shoppersADB forecasts: Brisk consumer spending and the growth of its rural economy will help the Indian economy outperform its Asia Pacific neighbours this year, the ADB predicted today. The bank expects South Asia to be the fastest growing sub-region, with India likely to meet its 2016 projected growth targets (more…)

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Norisk Nickel CEO Potanin tops Bloomberg list of Russian billionaires

Vladimir PotaninUS publisher Bloomberg  has named Nickel CEO Vladimir Potanin Russia’s richest man with assets valued at $14.7bn in its rankings of the world’s top 200 billionaires. The world’s largest nickel producer, Noris Nickel posted revenues of $8.5bn last year, 30.4% of which Potanin controls through Inteross. He also controls real estate assets worth $500m, the Sochi ski resort of Rosa Khutor and 50 % of Russian internet company Afisha-Rumbler-SUP.
He leads a list of 15 Russians in the top 200 that includes:
Leonid Mikhelson ($14.1bn) who owns 25% of Novatek, Russia’s second largest natural gas producer, 42.% of petrochemical producer Sibur and part of Promsvyazbank.
Viktor VekselbergViktor Vekselberg ($13.1bn), chairman of Renova Group, a Bahamas-based investment company with stakes in publicly traded equipment makers Sulzer and Oerlikon, and Rusal, Russia’s biggest aluminium producer. Vekselberg also controls Russia’s largest holding of regional airports and sold 12.5% of a Russian oil venture for $7bn in 2013.
Alexei Mordashov ($12.2bn), the largest shareholder in Severstal, Russia’s fourth-biggest steelmaker. Mordashov also owns stakes in gold producer Nordgold, power generation equipment maker Power Machines, and TUI, Europe’s largest tour operator. His other assets include National Media Group, Bank Rossia and wireless carrier Tele2 Russia.

Mikhail Fridman

Mikhail Fridman

Mikhail Fridman ($12.1bn) who controls Alfa Group, an investment company that owns stakes in Russian mobile-phone operator VimpelCom and Alfa Bank. Fridman also owns just under 22% in X5, Russia’s second-biggest food retailer and, through Luxembourg-based LetterOne, 38% of German oil and gas producer DEA.

Alisher Usmanov who owns 48% of USM Holdings, a British Virgin Islands-based entity that controls Metalloinvest, Russia’s largest iron ore producer, and mobile phone company MegaFon. Usmanov also has shares in Alibaba, Airbnb, JD.Com and Spotify, and co-owns Russian internet company Group and UK football team Arsenal.
Roman AbramovicRoman Abramovic ($10.9bn) the largest shareholder in Evraz, Russia’s second-biggest steelmaker. Abramovic also owns stakes in Norilsk Nickel and London’s Chelsea Football Club. He built his fortune using dividends and sales of privatized assets acquired from the former Soviet Union, including Sibneft and Aeroflot.
Mikhail Prokhorov ($10bn) founder of Onexim Group, a Moscow-based company with interests in banking, insurance, energy and sports and which also holds a 17 % stake in Rusal and 20% in Uralkali, Russia’s biggest potash producer. Prokhorov also owns the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center arena.
Dmitry RybolovlevDmitry Rybolovlev ($9.4bn) who sold two Russian fertilizer producers for almost $7.5bn in 2010 and 2011. He also sold more than $1bn of Uralkali stock at the company’s 2007 initial public offering, and bought art, jewelry, homes, a yacht, a stake in the Bank of Cyprus and AS Monaco football club.
Vladimir Lisin ($9bn), chairman and largest shareholder of Novolipetsk Steel, Russia’s largest steelmaker. The publicly traded company produced 15.9m tons of steel last year and posted revenues of $8bn. Lisin also owns Freight One, which controls about 16% of Russia’s rail cars, port facilities operator UCL Port; and the VBTH shipping company.

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New Delhi to push ahead with Indian reform program, pledges Jaitley

Indian Finance Minister Arun JaitleyIndian reform program: Encouraged by a 7.9% GDP growth rate in the first three months of the year, the Indian government is determined to push ahead with its reform agenda and to retain its position as the world’s fastest growing economy, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said this week.
“For India to realise its full potential (more…)

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Indian economy growing fastest in world, new survey finds

Indian construction workersIndian economy: A Reuters survey of economists due out on Tuesday is expected to show that India’s GDP grew by 7.5% year-on-year between January and March, confirming its position as the world’s fastest growing economy. This upbeat outlook contrasts with neighbouring China, where growth slipped to 6.7% in Q1, the slowest rate it has recorded in seven years.
Given the poor prospects for a boost from exports, however, (more…)

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Russian economy destined to stagnate without reform, Kurdin warns

Former Russian Finance Minister Alexei KudrinThe Russian economy will not start growing but will remain “at the bottom” if authorities do not start implementing structural reforms, its former Finance Minister, and Deputy Chairman of the Presidential Economic Council Alexey Kurdin warned yesterday.
“While we can (more…)

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Iran’s GDP set to rise 4-5% – IMF

IMF's First Deputy Managing Director David LiptonIran’s GDP could enjoy a growth rate of between 4 and 4.5% following an increase in the country’s oil revenues, the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton predicted this week. “Higher oil exports, along with lower costs of trade and financial transactions, as (more…)

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Egyptian economy larger than South Africa’s, says IMF report

CairoThe depreciation in the rand has seen Egypt overtake South Africa as the second largest economy in Africa, according to the latest World Economic Outlook from the IMF, making it the African continent’s second largest economy after Nigeria.The report also predicts (more…)

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Chinese economy heading for L-shaped growth, says official

Beijing construction workerThe growth of the Chinese economy is likely to follow an L-shaped pattern in the coming years as deep-rooted problems persist and new challenges emerge, according to an interview with a senior official in The People’s Daily yesterday. The article rules out the possibility (more…)

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CCA economic growth slumps to 20-year low with more gloom ahead

Central Asian migrant workersCCA economic growth: A combination of the large and sustained decline in commodity prices, the knock-on effect of Russia’s recession and the slowdown and rebalancing of China’s economy has brought economic growth in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) region to a 20-year low, according to (more…)

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Fitch downgrades Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan Stock ExchangeFitch downgrades Kazakhstan: Fitch Ratings has downgraded Kazakhstan’s long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) from BBB+ to BBB and its local currency IDR from A- to BBB.
“Off-balance sheet spending, (more…)

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