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07.03.2009 21:57:30 - Uzbek population’s incomes increase 34 percent: State Statistics Committee (http://capital-en.trend.az)

Nominal money incomes of Uzbek population increased 34.1 percent in 2008, the Uzbek State Statistics Committee told Trend Capital.

Money expenditures of Uzbek population also increased 34.2 percent in 2008. Specific weight of wages in total structure of population's money incomes makes up 33.3 percent. Share of social transfer (pensions, grants and scholarships) totals 16.8 percent. Incomes from entrepreneur activity (including sale of agricultural production) totaled 49.9 percent.

Consumer expenditures - 74.7 percent, accumulation of money savings on deposits, securities, purchase of currency - 17.1 percent, payment of obligatory fees - 6.5 percent prevailed in total structure of money incomes use.

Growth of population's money incomes surpassed growth rate of consumer prices in 2008, the Uzbek State Statistics Committee's official report says. As a result real money incomes of population increased 25.1 percent.

Minimal amount of wage was fixed in the amount of 28,040 Uzbek sum per month (about $20) in November 2008. Pensions were fixed on age in the amount of 55,550 sum per month (about $41), the Uzbek Ministry of Labor and Social Protection told Trend Capital. Minimal amount of wage increased upon the President Islam Karimov's decree. Minimal amount of wage increased thrice in Uzbekistan in 2008.
10.02.2009 19:14:42 - Uzbekistan Commercial News Update 2008 (http://www.bisnis.doc.gov)
GAZPROM SAYS AGREES 2008 GAS PRICE WITH UZBEKISTAN - REPORT
Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom has agreed on 2008 gas import prices with Uzbekistan, effectively removing the last obstacle for smooth supplies from Central Asia next year.
Last month, Uzbekistan asked Gazprom to pay more for its gas after Gazprom agreed to raise payment by 30% to another major Central Asia producer, Turkmenistan, which now charges US$130 per 1,000 cubic meters. But Gazprom did not say how much it would pay in 2008 for Uzbek gas, Reuters reported.

"The purchase price was brought in line with the regional market conditions," Gazprom said in a statement.

Uzbek, Turkmen and Kazakh gas helps Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, cover gas demand in Russia, the former Soviet Union and Europe amid stagnant output in Siberia.

Gazprom usually uses gas from Central Asia to supply Ukraine and a spike in Turkmen gas prices has already led to a 38% price rise for Kiev, which will pay US$179.50 from the New Year.

By comparison, Gazprom charges Europe, which buys a quarter of its gas from Russia, an average of US$260 and expects prices to rise to over US$350 next year.

Uzbekistan produced 62 bcm of gas last year and exported 12.6 bcm, including 9 bcm to Gazprom. Turkmenistan sells much bigger volumes to Gazprom, exceeding 50 bcm a year.
NATIONAL BANK OF UZBEKISTAN ASSIGNED 'E+' BFSR - MOODY'S
Moody's Investors Service said it assigned National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of the Republic of Uzbekistan (NBU) a bank financial strength rating (BFSR) of 'E+', long and short-term local currency deposit ratings of 'Ba3/Not Prime' and long-term and short-term foreign currency deposit ratings of 'B3/Not Prime' with a stable outlook, Thomson Financial reported.

Moody's said NBU's ratings reflect the bank's strong franchise value within the context of Uzbekistan, where the bank has a dominant share in terms of assets, capital and loans, as well as the bank's utmost importance for the Uzbek economy given its major role in attracting and conducting foreign investments to the country and servicing foreign trade operations.

However, NBU's ratings are constrained by its current low profitability and cost-efficiency, the low diversification of its funding base and a degree of uncertainty relating to the bank's asset quality, as well as its corporate governance and risk management practices, which are currently at the process of development.
CNPC TO PUT US$2.16BN ON GAS PIPELINE
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will invest 16 billion yuan (US$2.16 billion) to fund construction of a planned Central Asia-China natural gas pipeline, Xinhua reported quoting CNPC's listed subsidiary PetroChina.

CNPC Exploration and Development Company Ltd. (CNPC E&D) would be responsible for building the pipeline expected to pump the natural gas China purchased from Central Asia's Turkmenistan, said the announcement.

PetroChina and China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Corporation (CNODC) - both CNPC subsidiaries and each with 50% of CNPC E&D - would supply 8 billion yuan in cash, respectively.

PetroChina said in the announcement that CNPC E&D planned to cooperate with two state-owned development companies in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to build the pipeline.

In July, CNPC, the country's largest oil and gas company, agreed to import 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually through the planned pipeline for 30 years from Turkmenistan.

According to the construction plan, the pipeline would start from Gedaim on the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and extend 1,818 kilometers. About 525 km would run through Uzbekistan and 1,293 km in Kazakhstan to reach Khorgos in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It would be connected with the country's planned second West-to-East natural gas pipeline.

Its designed gas transmission capacity was 30 billion cubic meters per year, a figure that could be lifted to 40 billion cubic meters. The project was estimated to cost US$7.31 billion.

To undertake the project, CNPC E&D established Trans-Asia Gas Pipeline Company Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary. Trans-Asia Gas would then set up joint ventures with the Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan development companies if approved by China.

The second West-to-East natural gas pipeline, to be constructed in 2008 and put into operation by 2010, would pass through 13 Chinese regions. It would carry natural gas from central Asian countries and Xinjiang to economically prosperous but energy thirsty eastern and southern China, including Shanghai and Guangdong Province.

Amid rising global oil prices and growing environmental concerns, China was set to look for cheaper and cleaner energy. The country planned to raise the ratio of natural gas in its energy consumption by 2.5% to 5.3% by 2010, a figure still far below the international average of 25%.

The country had endeavored to build a natural gas transmission network covering its whole territory. The first West-to-East pipeline, operated by CNPC, transmitted 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Tarim Basin of Xinjiang to Shanghai annually.

In August, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), the country's second largest oil firm, started construction of its project to transmit gas from the Puguang field in southwestern Sichuan Province to Shanghai.

CNPC E&D, a PetroChina subsidiary, specialized in international oil and gas exploration and production. Its business covers countries including Algeria, Kazakhstan, Oman, Niger, Chad, Canada, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, China and Indonesia.
GAZPROM AND UZBEKISTAN AGREE ON PROCUREMENT RATES FOR 2008
Gazprom and Uzbekistan have agreed on the rate at which Russia will import gas in 2008. On 27 December, the negotiations on the terms of supply of natural gas from Uzbekistan and its transit through the territory of the country were concluded. Particularly the gas and transportation rates were agreed on, the press service of the Russian gas holding informed.

The parties signed collateral contracts and agreement. The rates at which Gazprom will procure Uzbek gas in 2008 are not being disclosed. A representative of Gazprom Sergey Kupriyanov explained that the specific terms of contract were a commercial secret. "All we can say is that Gazprom procures gas in all countries of Middle and Central Asia on comparable terms," he said.

Earlier Uzbekistan sent Gazprom an offer to negotiate an increase of the rates for its gas in 2008. In the late November Gazprom announced its preparedness to consider Uzbekistan's offer.

In 2007 the Russian gas holding purchased Uzbek gas at the rate of US$100 for 1,000 cubic meters (cbm). This in turn exceeded the 2006 rates by more than 60%.

The total gas supply volume imported by Gazprom from Uzbekistan according to the contract with the Uzbekneftegaz made up 13 billion cbm in 2007. According to the strategic partnership agreement, in 2004 Uzbekistan sold Russia more than 7 billion cbm of the natural resource, in 2005 – 8.15 billion cbm, and in 2006 – 9 billion cbm.
UZBEKISTAN PLANS TO INVEST US$255M IN DEVELOPMENT OF AUTO-INDUSTRY BY 2010
In 2008-2009 Uzbekistan plans to invest some US$255 million in the development of automobile industry. This is envisaged by the programme on modernization, technological and technical re-equipment of enterprises of the automobile industry, approved through the Presidential Resolution in December 2007.

According to the document, US$113.94 million will be invested within the next two years in the modernization, technological and technical re-equipment of UzDaewooAuto Joint-Stock Company (Asaka city, Andijan region). Of them US$65.4 million will be used for the renewal of the model range, including the launch of the new model of Nexia sedan (US$17.7 million) and setting up of the series production of Lacettis (US$47.7 million).
UZBEKISTAN APPROVES RUSSIAN-UZBEK LNG VENTURE - REPORT
President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov has approved the creation of a US$221.5 million joint venture for the production of liquified natural gas (LNG) by Russia's Stroytransgaz and Uzbekistan's Uzbekneftegaz.

A spokesman for Uzbekneftegaz said the president's approval clears the way for the planned signing of an agreement between the two companies by March of this year, aiming to produce LNG at the Mubarek natural gas processing plant.

The facility will process 12 billion cu m of gas annually and produce 270,000 tonnes of LNG along with 70,000 tonnes of gas condensate, a report by Oil & Gas Journal said.

Stroytransgaz will contribute US$110 million to the project, with an additional US$45.5 million coming from Uzbekneftegaz, US$35.5 million from Uzbekistan's Fund for Reconstruction and Development, and IS$30 million from an unnamed Chinese bank.
MINIMUM CAPITAL REQUIREMENT FOR COMMERCIAL BANKS SET AT 5M EUROS
In line with the decision of the Board of the Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan changes have been introduced to the Regulation "On the procedures of registration and licensing of banks" registered by the Ministry of Justice on 13 December 2007 under No. 630-10.

According to the decision, starting 1 January 2008 the minimum required equity capital for the newly opened commercial banks is established at 5 million euros, and for private banks – at 2.5 million euros or their equivalent according to the exchange rate quoted by the Central Bank on the day when the founders formalize the decision to set up the bank.
ADB EXTENDS US$75.3M TO MODERNIZE MAIN HIGHWAY IN UZBEKISTAN
The Asia Development Bank (ADB) has extended Uzbekistan a loan for US$75.3 million for the development of the main highway that makes up a part of the Central Asian regional transportation corridor.

The Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov "On measures to develop motor roads for public use for 2007-2010" dated 20 December 2006 envisages gradual construction and reconstruction of the motor roads for more efficient integration into the world transportation system: northern and north-western directions providing access to the countries of CIS and Europe, and south-western and southern directions opening access to the ports of the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea.

The project was developed based on this resolution, a source at ADB Uzbekistan Office told UzA. The funds lent will be used for the development of two segments of the A-389 highway that stretch to the total of 1,200 kilometers and connects the Uzbek-Kazakh border in the north and the Uzbek-Afghan and Uzbek-Turkmen borders in the south.

The total budget of the project on the development of the highway and strengthening of the potential of the road sector makes up US$173.5 million.

The first segment of the road to be reconstructed is 40 kilometers loan and is located in the Kungrad district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The second, 91 kilometers long, is located in the Khazarasp district of Khorezm region and Turtkul district of Karakalpakstan. For the selection of subcontractors for the completion of the works it is planned to invite international tenders.

A part of the funds will be used to assist the improvement of management and technical support of the network of automobile roads of the country through the strengthening of potential of the institutions and organizations in the motor-road sector, improvement of the planning and financial management, and procurement of road-construction equipment. This highway bears vital importance for the strengthening of the economic growth of Uzbekistan and Central Asia as a whole. It will reduce the travel time and the transportation costs.
NUMBER OF MOBILE USERS IN UZBEKISTAN EXCEEDS 6 MILLION
During the past five years there is observed rapid development of mobile communication networks in the Republic of Uzbekistan along with the growth of the number of mobile phone users.

The first million of mobile subscribers was registered in November 2005, and in the beginning of 2007 their number comprised 2.7 million, a report posted on the website of the Uzbek Agency for Communication and Informatization (UzACI) said.

The number of mobile users grew by 3.1 million during 2007 and made up some 5.8 million by the year end. It means that the total number of mobile communication subscribers in Uzbekistan increased more than 2 times in 2007, the report said.

If compared with the previous year, the number of mobile users rose by 1.5 million in 2006. So, the growth rate made up 200% in 2007 against the indicator of 2006.

The number of mobile users in the country exceeded 6 million in the first decade of December 2008, according to the latest data of UzACI.

The Uzbek market of mobile services has five operators, namely MTS-Uzbekistan (Uzdunrobita, GSM), Unitel (Beeline trademark, GSM), Coscom (GSM), Perfectum Mobile (Rubicon Wireless Communication, CDMA) and UzbekTelecom Mobile, subsidiary of UzbekTelecom joint-stock company (Uzmobile trademark, CDMA).
TURKISH PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY OPENS ITS OFFICES IN UZBEKISTAN, AZERBAIJAN
Deva Holding A.S., a subsidiary of EastPharma, has announced the successful opening of its authorized representative offices in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

The launch of the Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan offices are further steps in EastPharma's expansion strategy, which is focused on the high growth pharmaceutical markets of Turkey, the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and surrounding regions, the company said in its announcement to Istanbul Stock Exchange on 9 January.

The new offices are responsible for the registration of pharmaceutical products in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan and liaising with the Azeri and Uzbek health authorities.

Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan are among the most under penetrated pharmaceutical markets in EastPharma's target region. Although there is no official data for these markets, the generally accepted market size for these countries is between US$400 million and US$700 million individually.

The offices will initially register selected products from Deva's range of 217 products as well as the products of Saba, the Turkish pharmaceutical producer acquired by EastPharma in May 2007, with the Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan pharmaceutical licensing authorities during the course of 2008.

The Azerbaijan representative office of Deva Holding has been opened in Baku, and the Uzbekistan representative office in Tashkent. Including these new representative offices, EastPharma's subsidiary Deva has four representative offices in total in the former Soviet Union: Georgia, Russia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
UZBEKISTAN TO RAISE GAS PRICE FOR RUSSIA BY 50% - REPORT
Uzbekistan will charge Russia up to 50% more for natural gas exports in 2008, the Russian daily Gazeta reported on 10 January, citing a report by an Uzbek investment company.

The report by the Avesta Investment Group said the price of gas exports will be US$130 per 1,000 cubic metres in the first half of 2008, rising to US$150 in the second half.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom declined to comment on the report, Gazeta said.

Russia depends on imports of natural gas from the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for domestic needs and to fulfil gas export agreements at higher prices to Ukraine and western Europe.

In 2007, Uzbekistan sold Gazprom 9 billion cubic metres of gas at US$100 per 1,000 cubic metres. Turkmenistan has also increased the price of its gas exports to Russia for 2008 up to US$150.
KYRGYZSTAN'S OUTSTANDING GAS DEBT TO UZBEKISTAN TO BE RESTRUCTURED
Kyrgyzstan's outstanding gas debt to Uzbekistan may be restructured and paid back over the period of five years, Director-General of KyrgyzGaz OJSC Salamat Aytikeev said in a press conference on 9 January in Bishkek, Kyrgyz media reports.

Aytikeev said the company's debt to Uzbekistan made up some US$ 4 billion, and the debt of Electric Stations OJSC – US$14 million. He did not specify what debt was to be restructured – the total or each of the two companies' individually.

He informed that the agreement on gas supplies for this current year was signed with the assistance of the Government of Kyrgyzstan, which provided a US$12 million loan at the interest of 6% pa. This sum was required as an advance payment for gas by Uzbekistan. Aytikeev said these were the only conditions on which the parties could come to agreement.

In 2008 KyrgyzGaz OJSC will be supplied the necessary amount of fuel estimated at 750 million cbm.
GM DAEWOO AIMS TO SELL 140,000 VEHICLES IN SOUTH KOREA THIS YEAR
GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. - a unit of General Motors Corp. (GM) - Monday said it aims to sell 140,000 vehicles in South Korea this year, up 7.2% from 2007, with several new models expected to draw in more buyers.

A company spokesman said GM Daewoo Chief Executive Michael A. Grimaldi told reporters at the Detroit Auto Show that the automaker is aiming also to export 1.86 million units - including complete knockdown units, Dow Jones reported. This makes the year's total sales target 2 million units.

In 2007, the company sold 130,542 units at home and exported 1.76 million units, which included 926,446 CKDs. GM's South Korean unit will introduce an upgraded version of the mid-size Tosca sedan this month and resume sales of the 0.8-liter Damas and Labo mini cars in April after satisfying South Korea's new strict emission standards. It has continued to produce LPG models of Damas and Labo for export. Also, the company will launch the 3.6-liter premium Statesman sedan in the third quarter and a new sub-midsize sedan in the fourth.

In a move to expand overseas sales, GM Daewoo will set up joint ventures in Poland and Uzbekistan in the second quarter to produce small cars and mini cars based on its CKDs.

In September last year, the company had said it would buy a 40% stake in Poland's state-owned automaker FSO for KRW238.7 billion (US$255 million) to set up a joint venture. GM Daewoo is also seeking a joint venture with a car manufacturing facility in Uzbekistan. The plants in Poland and Uzbekistan were once owned by the now-defunct Daewoo Motor.

General Motors and its partners took a controlling stake in some of Daewoo Motor's assets in 2002 to create GM Daewoo. But other Daewoo plants in East Europe and FSO were excluded from the deal.
UZDAEWOOAUTO TO LAUNCH PRODUCTION OF UPDATED VERSION OF NEXIA IN FEBRUARY
TASHKENT. January 16 (Interfax) - UzDaewooAuto will launch the production of an updated version of Nexia car in February 2008, Interfax reported quoting a source in the administration of UzAvtoProm joint-stock company.

"Presently, testing of the updated Nexia is being held in the plant and, as expected, its mass production will start from February 2008," he said. It is expected that the first Nexia New will be supplied to Russia in February-March this year.

The updated version of Nexia will be sold in the domestic market under the Chevrolet brand, and the export variant will have traditional Daewoo brand. The new version will have changed of front and rear bumpers, lightning elements, interior of saloon and control devices.

As reported earlier, UzDaewooAuto signed contract with Concept Group in 2005 for the development of design and introducing changes in the production of Nexia car. Initially, it was planned to launch production of new Nexia in 2006, but the terms were changed due to search for strategic partner.

UzDaewooAuto was founded on parity basis between the government of Uzbekistan and Daewoo Motor (South Korea). In 1996, the company commissioned a car construction plant in Andijan region with project capacity of 200,000 cars annually.

Uzbekistan purchased 50% of Daewoo Motor in the joint venture in October 2005. Currently, UzAvtoProm is holding 100% share package of UzDaewooAuto. The plant manufactures four models of cars. The level of localization of spare parts at the enterprise makes up nearly 50%.

UzAvtoProm and General Motors founded GM Uzbekistan joint venture in October 2007 to produce and sell Chevrolet cars in Uzbekistan on the basis of UzDaewooAuto.
UZDAEWOOAUTO'S PRODUCTION UP 26.5% IN JAN-NOV 2007
The production of cars at UzDaewooAuto CJSC (Asaka, Andijan region) increased by 26.5% in January-November 2007 compared to the same period of 2006 to 159,419, according to the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan.

In particular, the output volume of cars of the Nexia model made up 78,281 (up 17.1%), Matiz – 58,796 (up 32.2%), Damas – 19,446 (up 36.1%), Lacetti – 1,722 (up 4.5 times), Epica – 207, Tacuma – 863, Captiva – 104 (the assembly of the latter three models was launched in October 2007).

The production of cars at the enterprise in 2006 had grown by 38.7% compared to 2005 to 140,080. The volumes of export grew 1.55 times to 82,500 units, and the volume of shipments to the local market – by 29.3% to 59,600.

The target set for 2007 was 180,000 cars. In 2008 the enterprise plans to reach a new target – 200,000 cars yearly.

UzDaewooAuto CJSC was set up on parity basis by the UzAvtoProm Uzbek Association of Automobile Building Enterprises and South Korean Daewoo Motors. In 1996 the JV launched a car factory worth US$650 million.

In May 2005 UzAvtoProm JSC bought out Daewoo Motors' 50% stake in the venture for some US$110 million. In the mid-October 2005 UzDaewooAuto prolonged the contract with the American General Motors for the delivery of component parts to 2010.

In September 2007, General Motors and UzAvtoProm set up GM Uzbekistan on the base of the Asaka factory. GM Uzbekistan will assemble three Chevrolet models – Captiva, Epica, and Tacuma. The total capacity of the plant is 50,000 units with the possibility of upgrading to full-scale production within three years.

According to the terms of the contract on the establishment of joint venture, General Motors has 25% interest in the enterprise, with the possibility of subsequently increasing it to 40%.
NOKIA SIEMENS NETWORKS STRENGTHENS ITS POSITION IN UZBEK MARKET
On 16 January Nokia Siemens Networks held a press briefing announcing its entry into the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan and the prospects of the development of this sector in the country.

The Director for Turkey, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Region Shashank Kumar, the Head of the division for negotiations with the key customers Murat Kurchuval, the Director for work with key customers of the Coscom Mikko Yula-Kauttu and the Director General of the Nokia Siemens Networks Tashkent Bahtiyar Muminov participated in the event on behalf of Nokia Siemens Networks.

The representatives of the largest media in Uzbekistan were invited to learn about Nokia Siemens Networks' plans in Uzbekistan, the company's vision on the development of the telecommunications industry in the future, and the advantages of expanding the use of modern mobile communication in Uzbekistan. They were also given an opportunity to ask questions and interview the representatives of the company.

Speaking of partnership, the Head of the Division responsible for negotiations with key customers of Nokia Siemens Networks Murat Kirchuval said: "The market of Uzbekistan is one of the most fast growing markets in Central Asia, and we believe that it has a great potential. At Nokia Siemens Networks we create solutions to suit any market needs. Our partnership with Coscom is given special importance, as it once again confirms are intention to deliver comprehensive innovative solutions and services to satisfy specific needs of the specific market."
According to the contract, Coscom chose Nokia Siemens Networks as a contactor for "turn-key" construction of the nation-wide mobile communication network in Uzbekistan. The agreement envisages the replacement of the existing network with the simultaneous expansion of the coverage zones and capacity. The sum of the contract signed for the period of two years comprises US$152 million.

"We have a strong position in the market of Uzbekistan and aim to become a preferred supplier of services and solutions, and become a trusted partner of our customers. Nokia Siemens Networks works with the majority of Uzbek operators of fixed and mobile communication and is prepared to provide a wide range of products and services to communication operators," the Director-General of the Nokia Siemens Networks Tashkent LLC, Muminov said. "We see the prospects of developing the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan and are prepared to satisfy the growing demand of the Uzbek mobile communication users."

Nokia Siemens Networks is the world's leading supplier of telecommunication solutions and services, one of the largest suppliers of telecommunication equipment. The company is present in more than 150 countries of the world. It is headquartered in Espoo, Finland. The company provides a wide range of infrastructural products and solutions in the field of mobile and fixed communication networks and satisfies the growing demand for the complementary services. The company's main production bases are sited in China, Finland, Germany, India, Italy and Spain.
KURILISH-LEASING SUPPLIES CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY FOR US$4.42M IN 2007
Kurilish-Leasing OJSC leases construction technology, special transportation, small mechanization tools and spare parts of foreign producers to the construction subcontracting organizations operating in Uzbekistan.

The company's mission is to develop renting and leasing services in the segment of capital construction in the Republic of Uzbekistan. In 2007 the company supplied 74 units of different types of construction technology for the total amount of US$4.42 million, and by 2008 it had handed over to the construction organizations the total of 68 pieces of equipment for over US$4.085 million.

Construction technology has been leased in 8 regions of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Karakalpakstan. A large number of equipment has been leased in Khorezm and Bukhara regions.
At this time six HOWO dump-trucks worth US$332,880 are in the customs office awaiting the completion of the paperwork and other necessary procedures.

The range of the small mechanization tools supplied was determined according to the requests received from the regional "one customer" services in advance. Thus, in the twelve months of 2007, the company leased the subcontractor construction organizations of the region different types of small mechanization tools in the amount of 626 units for the total amount of over US$313,700.

Kurilish-Leasing Open Joint-Stock Leasing Company was established on 23 October 2003. Its founders are the National Bank of Uzbekistan for Foreign Economic Activity, Asaka Bank, Pakhta Bank, UzPromStroyBank, Ipoteka Bank, Uzbekistan Temir Yullari (Uzbekistan Railways) Comopany, UzbekNefteGaz (Uzbek Oil and Gas) National Holding Company, and UzbekEnergo State Company.
ARABIC COORDINATION GROUP MEMBERS TO PROVIDE UZBEKISTAN US$797.9 MILLION
President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov approved the list of 17 investment projects at the expense of the Arabic Coordination Group (ACG) members.

Total cost of the projects makes up some US$1 billion, including 12 concrete investment intentions with attraction of credits worth US$499.6 million and developmental work on attraction of US$298.3 million for the implementation of five projects. Provision of resources is planned for 2008/12.

ACG includes Islamic Development Bank, and Arabic stock markets – Saudi Development Fund, Abu Dhabi Development Fund, OPEC Development Fund, Kuwait Fund for Arabic Economy Development.

It is planned to direct the largest volume of credit resources worth US$340 million on the realization of five projects in the sphere of irrigation and melioration. In particular, some US$150 million will be attracted during five years for commissioning collectors in Khorezm region, as well as US$79 million for reconstruction of irrigation network and drainage system in Jizzakh and Syrdarya regions.

According to official statistics, the volume of project financing with participation of Arabic financial institutions has comprised nearly US$200 million so far. Particularly, IDB provided Uzbekistan US$114.6 million for the implementation of nine projects in the social sphere. The Kuwait Fund for Arabic Economy Development issued US$61.4 million for the implementation of three projects in the field of reconstruction of railway infrastructure. OPEC provided US$10 million for two projects in railway transport sector.
EBRD TO APPROPRIATE MCFF FOR COMPANIES OF CENTRAL ASIA, SOUTHERN CAUCASUS
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is launching the programme of Medium-Sized Loan Co-Financing Facility (MCFF) for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

According to the statement issued by the EBRD, the registration of the consultants according to the MCFF approved on 30 September 2003 in the amount of 60 million euros for local companies of the said regions has already been started.

"The registration is not being limited by deadlines, but the programme funding will be launched by the end of January staring with Armenia," the statement says.

Companies with the budget of at least 50,000 euros for the past 12 months are eligible to apply for registration. The maximum budget for the consulting services in the region will constitute 250,000 euros.

The MCFF is for co-financing with leading local banks in the early transition countries (ETCs) and the Western Balkan countries and other suitable countries where the companies have outgrown the countries' financial sector. The facility meets the demand for medium-sized loans by prime local private companies.

The EBRD's co-financing takes the form of funded or unfunded risk participation. Under the funded scheme, the EBRD provides a recourse credit line to the partner bank and a non recourse sub loan to the local private company. Whereas in the unfunded portion, the EBRD will share the underlying risk of a guarantee issued by the partner bank to the local private company.

The EBRD's risk participation will normally not exceed 50% of the credit exposure of the partner bank, but can be up to 66.7% with OpsCom approval. Sub-loan or risk exposure size is expected to be up to 8 million euros.

The MCFF enhances the EBRD's operations and diversify its operational instruments in the selected countries, while assisting successful local banks to better manage risk exposures to its large customers.
UZBEK-RUSSIAN TRADE UP 40% TO US$4.2 BILLION IN 2007 - REPORT
TASHKENT. January 24 (RIA Novosti) - Trade between Russia and Uzbekistan grew by 40% to reach US$4.2 billion in 2007, RIA Novosti reported quoting Russia's ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Farit Mukhametshin said the main fields of cooperation included trade, energy, the food industry, finance, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, the pharmaceutical industry, and other spheres. "The number of joint ventures set up in Uzbekistan with Russian investments is over 500," Mukhametshin said. The ambassador also said Russia and Uzbekistan had effectively collaborated in social, cultural, educational, humanitarian and other fields.

In 2006, mutual trade between the two former Soviet republics was around $3 billion.
19% OF INVESTMENTS IN UZBEKISTAN MADE IN FUEL AND ENERGY SECTOR
Uzbekistan has summed up the preliminary economic results for the year 2007. The share of the production investments in the country made up 67% (against 64.1% in 2006).

The largest volumes of investments are made in the projects in the fields of transportation and communication (23.9% of the total volume of investments), fuel and energy complex, chemical and petro-chemical industries (19.9%).

The total of 234 investment projects were completed in the food sector (91 objects), light industry (44), construction materials production (56), fuel and energy complex and metallurgy (21), and other industrial segments.

In the oil and gas industry, the output growth was supported through more intensive processing of the materials produced, as a result of which the production of auto-petrol has grown by 4.5%, liquefied natural gas (6.9%), and diesel fuel (0.8%), Oilru.com reported.
UZBEKISTAN AIRWAYS TRANSPORTS 2 MILLION PASSENGERS IN 2007
TASHKENT. January 26 (UzA) - Uzbekiston Havo Yollari (Uzbekistan Airways) national airline conveyed 2 million passengers and 20,000 tonnes of cargo in 2007. For over the last years the company gained the confidence of its clients and expanded the sphere of its activities in the international market of transportation.

In May and June last year the company administration signed contracts with the Boeing Company on procurement of two Boeing-787 and Dreamliner aircraft. It has also cut a deal with Airbus Consortium on procurement of six aircraft A-320-200.

The project financing has been launched. As a result, Uzbekistan Airways will acquire four more locally-made aircraft Il-114-100. The modernization of Uzbekistan Airways fleet will allow raise the competitiveness of national air carrier in the international markets in the nearest future, increase the network of direct routes from Tashkent, ensure the company's sustainable development and accomplishment of forecast indicators.

From July 2007 the national company established the two more new international destinations: to Milan in Italy twice a week and along the route Tashkent-Cairo-Athens-Tashkent once a week.

According to the company news release, last year it undertook 22,935 flights, including 297 charters. It transported over 1.9 million passengers that is 16.5% more than in 2006. The volume of the transported cargo accounted for over 20,000 tonnes that is 1,000 tonnes more than in 2006.
RUSSIAN, CHINESE COMPANIES TO BUILD POTASSIUM FERTILIZERS FACTORY IN UZBEKISTAN
Western-Ural Machine Building Concern (Perm, Russia), and Chinese CITIC Pacific Ltd have signed contracts for some US$100 million with the UzKimyoSanoat (Uzbek Chemical Industry) State Joint-Stock Company for the "turn key" construction of a potassium fertilizers factory in Dekhkanabad, the President's special resolution states.

The Chinese party will be responsible for the construction of the processing and the Russian party – of the mining complexes. The project worth some US$123.67 million will be financed by the Uzbek Fund for Reconstruction and Development, the Chinese Export Import Bank and UzKimyoSanoat itself.

The first potassium ore is expected to be extracted by 1 July 2009, and as soon as by October same year the plant will produce its first output. The factory is based on Tyubegatan field of potassium minerals in Kashkadarya region on the border with Turkmenistan. Its deposits exceed 400 million tons. Today Uzbekistan imports potassium fertilizers from Russia.
HEINEKEN CREATES VENTURE WITH EBI IN UZBEKISTAN
TASHKENT. January 28 (Reuters) - Heineken NV has set up a joint venture with Efes Breweries International (EBI) in order to invest in the rapidly growing Uzbek beer market, Reuters reported quoting the Dutch brewer.

Heineken will hold 40% and EBI 60% of the shares in the joint venture, with EBI responsible for operational management, Heineken said in a statement. Heineken and EBI added they would also combine their operations in the Kazakh and Serbian beer markets.

"With the combined resources, skills and brands of our two businesses, we believe that we will be able to drive stronger, faster growth than would be possible separately," said Nico Nusmeier, Heineken regional president for central and eastern Europe. "From a strategic Heineken perspective, this deal also leaves us well positioned to achieve leadership positions in three fast-growing Central and Eastern European beer markets," he added.

Heineken, the world's fourth-largest brewer in terms of sales, is looking to expand into fast-growing Eastern European markets. EBI, operates in Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Serbia, where the company has ten breweries with a total annual capacity of 24.6 million hectolitres.

Last week Heineken together with Carlsberg finally agreed to buy rival Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) for 7.8 billion pounds (US$15.3 billion) to carve up Britain's biggest brewer after a three-month takeover saga
CHINA PLANS RAIL LINK TO CENTRAL ASIA FOR OIL
China is setting up extensive railway linkages over two different routes to the oil-rich Central Asia. The connectivity it to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan will enhance the competitiveness of Chinese oil companies bidding for energy assets in those countries. This is going to cause some amount of alarm in the US government and in Indian oil companies seeking oil assets in Central Asia, the Times of India reports.

The move also signals the determination of Chinese rulers to build land transportation facilities that would reduce its dependence on sea routes, which are closely monitored by US military ships. A rail link could ensure regular oil supplies to China from Central Asia in the event of a sea blockade and other forms of military action.

The plan involves building two rail routes connecting western China's Xinjiang province with Central Asia. A portion of one route linking Korgas on the China-Kazakhstan border with China's inland railways is expected to be completed within this year. It will be extended to west to join the Sary-Ozek railway of Kazakhstan to create the second cross-border rail link between the two countries.

The project cost has been fixed at US$861 million, said officials attending a meeting on regional trade. The rail project offering opportunities for cost reduction will put Chinese oil companies in a better position to compete for energy assets in Central Asia against bidders from different countries.

Indian oil companies have been involved in tough bidding with their Chinese counterparts in Central Asia over the past two years and a lot more competition is expected in the coming years. China has a rail link of 460 kms connecting Urumqi and Alataw Pass where it connects to Kazakhstan railways.

Government sources said the new route will help reduce the burden on the land port of Alataw Pass, the largest land port in northwest China, which was forced to handle 60% more traffic in 2007 as compared to what it did in 2006 in view of expanding demand.

China has also launched work on designing a second rail route that would start at Kashi (Kaxgar) in Xinjiang and pass through Kyrgyzstan to reach Uzbekistan.

This route is expected to become operational in 2010 and will enable China to reach Europe by improving the connectivity between western China, Central Asia and the southern passageway of the new Euroasia continental bridge.
RUSSIA'S VIMPELCOM BUYS SHARES OF GOLDEN TELECOM IN UZBEKISTAN
TASHKENT. January 30 (Interfax) - The Uzbek State Committee for Demonopolization and Support of Competition and Entrepreneurship has approved the acquisition of 100% of shares of Golden Telecom company by Russia's Vimpelcom open joint-stock company. Golden Telecom has assets in the Republic of Uzbekistan, a source in the committee's administration told Interfax news agency.

"Vimpelcom's request to buy Golden Telecom was received on January 18, and we have granted permission to carry out the deal," the source told the agency.
Golden Telecom has more than 54% shareholding in the Buzton joint venture (Tashkent), which is one of the leading alternative communications operators in Uzbekistan. Other shareholders of Buzton are Uzbek national operator UzbekTelecom and American NCI Projects International Inc.
10.02.2009 03:19:48 - US considers Uzbekistan as backup base (http://www.ap.org/)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is considering resuming military cooperation with hardline Uzbekistan as a potential backup plan given the uncertain future of a nearby air base that is a main artery for troops and supplies for the widening Afghanistan war, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Defense officials say they are examining options for supply routes through a semicircle of nations from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf that could be used in place of a strategic air base in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan.

Uzbekistan is a surprise contender because diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Uzbekistan are rocky at best. The Uzbeks expelled the U.S. from a base on its soil in 2005, and the two nations have traded accusations ever since.

Defense officials said planning to substitute for the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan is a preliminary hedge in case the Bishkek government makes good on a threat to expel the United States from a base that serves about 15,000 U.S. personnel coming and going from Afghanistan each month, along with 500 tons of goods.

Defense officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are preliminary and the United States is still negotiating with Kyrgyzstan about continued use of the base. Several officials said that dispute is likely to come down to money: Either the United States agrees to a significant increase in rent or Kyrgyzstan will yield to Russian pressure to kick the U.S. out.

Asked about the Kyrgyz situation in an appearance at the State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said it was troubling but would not impede U.S. plans to expand its military presence in Afghanistan. She said the Pentagon was "conducting an examination as to how else we would proceed" in the event the Manas air base is no longer available.

"It's regrettable that this is under consideration by the government of Kyrgyzstan," Clinton told reporters, "and we hope to have further discussions with them. But we will proceed in a very effective manner no matter what the outcome of the Kyrgyzstan government's deliberations might be."

In addition to opening new suppy routes from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian nations, another potential option — although one with significant logistical problems — would be a new air supply route from the United Arab Emirates, one official said.

"It's just at the point of looking at it. There aren't cost estimates yet," or other crucial data that the new Obama administration would need, one official said.

The United States has been seeking additional supply routes into Afghanistan for months, driven largely by worry about the safety of overland routes from Pakistan. Uzbekistan and a neighboring Central Asian state, Kazakhstan, have been part of that planning, one official said.

Military leaders have said in public that they were examining and testing new overland options, but details have been slim. The possibility of renewing ruptured ties with Uzbekistan predated the Manas problem but it gained ground as a result, officials said.

The U.S. has been testing, for some months, alternative Central Asian overland supply routes into Afghanistan and expect to fully implement by spring a deal with Uzbekistan in which U.S. non-lethal supplies would be moved into Afghanistan by commercial rail from Uzbekistan. The rail route has been tested a number of times, with U.S. financial compensation to the Uzbeks, to haul lumber, fuel, cement and other supplies into Afghanistan.

The United States set up Manas and a base in neighboring Uzbekistan after the September 2001 attacks to back operations in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan expelled U.S. troops from the base on its territory in 2005 in a dispute over human rights issues, leaving Manas as the only U.S. military facility in the immediate region.

In a visit to the base last month, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, said the U.S. pumps $150 million annually into Kyrgyzstan's economy, including $63 million in rent for Manas.

Kyrgyzstan has complained that the U.S. is stingy, and announced this week it was evicting the U.S. At the same time Kyrgyzstan collected billions in new Russian aid.

Kyrgyzstan's prime minister said Thursday the country is still in talks with the United States over the base.

Russia has long been irritated by the U.S. military presence in what is considers its natural areas of influence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Kremlin is widely believed to be behind the move against the U.S. by Kyrgyzstan's government, which submitted a draft bill to parliament Wednesday that would close Manas. Lawmakers have decided to delay a vote until next week.
10.02.2009 03:19:12 - UZBEKISTAN: REMITTANCES SOAR IN 2008, EVEN AS ECONOMY STUMBLES (http://www.eurasianet.org)
Unistream, a global money transfer entity, has announced the volume of remittances handled by the company destined for Uzbekistan nearly doubled in 2008.

The Russian-owned operator said it had handled transactions worth $787 million in 2008, an 88 percent increase in business compared to $419 million in 2007. The company claims to control a 22-percent share of the Uzbek money transfer market, and has doubled the number of Unistream points-of-service from 300 to 600.

Chief executive officer, Souren Hayriyan, said he expected continued growth for Unistream in Uzbekistan over the course of 2009. "We have succeeded in reaching great results in the Asian corridor particularly," Hayriyan said in a company news release February 9. The Uzbek government does not release official data on remittances, but the UN estimates them to be worth at least 10 percent of gross domestic product.
03.02.2009 19:21:52 - Kyrgyzstan to close US air base (http://www.ap.org/)
By MIKE ECKEL

MOSCOW (AP) — Kyrgyzstan is ending U.S. use of a key airbase that supports military operations in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan's president was quoted as saying Tuesday.

A Kyrgyz decision to end the U.S. use of Manas, just outside the Central Asian nation's capital of Bishkek, could have potentially far-reaching consequences for U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, said during a trip to Central Asia last month that Manas air base would be key to plans to boost U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan by up to 30,000 soldiers in the coming months.

Interfax and RIA-Novosti quoted Kurmanbek Bakiyev as making the statement just minutes after Russia announced it was providing the poor ex-Soviet country with billions of dollars in aid.

The Kyrgyz government "has made the decision on ending the term for the American base on the territory of Kyrgystan and in the near future, this decision will be announced," Bakiyev was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying.

Kyrgyz government officials could not be immediately reached for comment. U.S. Embassy officials in Bishkek could not be immediately reached either.

The United States set up the Manas base in Kyrgyzstan and a base in neighboring Uzbekistan after the September 2001 terror attacks, to back operations in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan expelled U.S. troops from the base on its territory in 2005 in a dispute over human rights issues, leaving Manas as the only U.S. military facility in the immediate region.

Russia has long been suspicious of the U.S. presence in what it considers its strategic backyard.

The Associated Press
01.06.2008 14:57:21 - Uzbekistan Commercial News Update (http://www.bisnis.doc.gov)
GAZPROM SAYS AGREES 2008 GAS PRICE WITH UZBEKISTAN - REPORT

TASHKENT. December 28 - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom has agreed on 2008 gas import prices with Uzbekistan, effectively removing the last obstacle for smooth supplies from Central Asia next year.

Last month, Uzbekistan asked Gazprom to pay more for its gas after Gazprom agreed to raise payment by 30% to another major Central Asia producer, Turkmenistan, which now charges US$130 per 1,000 cubic meters. But Gazprom did not say how much it would pay in 2008 for Uzbek gas, Reuters reported.

"The purchase price was brought in line with the regional market conditions," Gazprom said in a statement.

Uzbek, Turkmen and Kazakh gas helps Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, cover gas demand in Russia, the former Soviet Union and Europe amid stagnant output in Siberia.

Gazprom usually uses gas from Central Asia to supply Ukraine and a spike in Turkmen gas prices has already led to a 38% price rise for Kiev, which will pay US$179.50 from the New Year.

By comparison, Gazprom charges Europe, which buys a quarter of its gas from Russia, an average of US$260 and expects prices to rise to over US$350 next year.

Uzbekistan produced 62 bcm of gas last year and exported 12.6 bcm, including 9 bcm to Gazprom. Turkmenistan sells much bigger volumes to Gazprom, exceeding 50 bcm a year.


NATIONAL BANK OF UZBEKISTAN ASSIGNED 'E+' BFSR - MOODY'S

TASHKENT. December 28- Moody's Investors Service said it assigned National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of the Republic of Uzbekistan (NBU) a bank financial strength rating (BFSR) of 'E+', long and short-term local currency deposit ratings of 'Ba3/Not Prime' and long-term and short-term foreign currency deposit ratings of 'B3/Not Prime' with a stable outlook, Thomson Financial reported.

Moody's said NBU's ratings reflect the bank's strong franchise value within the context of Uzbekistan, where the bank has a dominant share in terms of assets, capital and loans, as well as the bank's utmost importance for the Uzbek economy given its major role in attracting and conducting foreign investments to the country and servicing foreign trade operations.

However, NBU's ratings are constrained by its current low profitability and cost-efficiency, the low diversification of its funding base and a degree of uncertainty relating to the bank's asset quality, as well as its corporate governance and risk management practices, which are currently at the process of development.


CNPC TO PUT US$2.16BN ON GAS PIPELINE

TASHKENT. December 29- China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will invest 16 billion yuan (US$2.16 billion) to fund construction of a planned Central Asia-China natural gas pipeline, Xinhua reported quoting CNPC's listed subsidiary PetroChina.

CNPC Exploration and Development Company Ltd. (CNPC E&D) would be responsible for building the pipeline expected to pump the natural gas China purchased from Central Asia's Turkmenistan, said the announcement.

PetroChina and China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Corporation (CNODC) - both CNPC subsidiaries and each with 50% of CNPC E&D - would supply 8 billion yuan in cash, respectively.

PetroChina said in the announcement that CNPC E&D planned to cooperate with two state-owned development companies in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to build the pipeline.

In July, CNPC, the country's largest oil and gas company, agreed to import 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually through the planned pipeline for 30 years from Turkmenistan.

According to the construction plan, the pipeline would start from Gedaim on the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and extend 1,818 kilometers. About 525 km would run through Uzbekistan and 1,293 km in Kazakhstan to reach Khorgos in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It would be connected with the country's planned second West-to-East natural gas pipeline.

Its designed gas transmission capacity was 30 billion cubic meters per year, a figure that could be lifted to 40 billion cubic meters. The project was estimated to cost US$7.31 billion.

To undertake the project, CNPC E&D established Trans-Asia Gas Pipeline Company Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary. Trans-Asia Gas would then set up joint ventures with the Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan development companies if approved by China.

The second West-to-East natural gas pipeline, to be constructed in 2008 and put into operation by 2010, would pass through 13 Chinese regions. It would carry natural gas from central Asian countries and Xinjiang to economically prosperous but energy thirsty eastern and southern China, including Shanghai and Guangdong Province.

Amid rising global oil prices and growing environmental concerns, China was set to look for cheaper and cleaner energy. The country planned to raise the ratio of natural gas in its energy consumption by 2.5% to 5.3% by 2010, a figure still far below the international average of 25%.

The country had endeavored to build a natural gas transmission network covering its whole territory. The first West-to-East pipeline, operated by CNPC, transmitted 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Tarim Basin of Xinjiang to Shanghai annually.

In August, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), the country's second largest oil firm, started construction of its project to transmit gas from the Puguang field in southwestern Sichuan Province to Shanghai.

CNPC E&D, a PetroChina subsidiary, specialized in international oil and gas exploration and production. Its business covers countries including Algeria, Kazakhstan, Oman, Niger, Chad, Canada, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, China and Indonesia.


GAZPROM AND UZBEKISTAN AGREE ON PROCUREMENT RATES FOR 2008

TASHKENT. January 3 - Gazprom and Uzbekistan have agreed on the rate at which Russia will import gas in 2008. On 27 December, the negotiations on the terms of supply of natural gas from Uzbekistan and its transit through the territory of the country were concluded. Particularly the gas and transportation rates were agreed on, the press service of the Russian gas holding informed.

The parties signed collateral contracts and agreement. The rates at which Gazprom will procure Uzbek gas in 2008 are not being disclosed. A representative of Gazprom Sergey Kupriyanov explained that the specific terms of contract were a commercial secret. "All we can say is that Gazprom procures gas in all countries of Middle and Central Asia on comparable terms," he said.

Earlier Uzbekistan sent Gazprom an offer to negotiate an increase of the rates for its gas in 2008. In the late November Gazprom announced its preparedness to consider Uzbekistan's offer.

In 2007 the Russian gas holding purchased Uzbek gas at the rate of US$100 for 1,000 cubic meters (cbm). This in turn exceeded the 2006 rates by more than 60%.

The total gas supply volume imported by Gazprom from Uzbekistan according to the contract with the Uzbekneftegaz made up 13 billion cbm in 2007. According to the strategic partnership agreement, in 2004 Uzbekistan sold Russia more than 7 billion cbm of the natural resource, in 2005 – 8.15 billion cbm, and in 2006 – 9 billion cbm.


UZBEKISTAN PLANS TO INVEST US$255M IN DEVELOPMENT OF AUTO-INDUSTRY BY 2010

TASHKENT. January 3 - In 2008-2009 Uzbekistan plans to invest some US$255 million in the development of automobile industry. This is envisaged by the programme on modernization, technological and technical re-equipment of enterprises of the automobile industry, approved through the Presidential Resolution in December 2007.

According to the document, US$113.94 million will be invested within the next two years in the modernization, technological and technical re-equipment of UzDaewooAuto Joint-Stock Company (Asaka city, Andijan region). Of them US$65.4 million will be used for the renewal of the model range, including the launch of the new model of Nexia sedan (US$17.7 million) and setting up of the series production of Lacettis (US$47.7 million).

UZBEKISTAN APPROVES RUSSIAN-UZBEK LNG VENTURE - REPORT

TASHKENT. January 4 - President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov has approved the creation of a US$221.5 million joint venture for the production of liquified natural gas (LNG) by Russia's Stroytransgaz and Uzbekistan's Uzbekneftegaz.

A spokesman for Uzbekneftegaz said the president's approval clears the way for the planned signing of an agreement between the two companies by March of this year, aiming to produce LNG at the Mubarek natural gas processing plant.

The facility will process 12 billion cu m of gas annually and produce 270,000 tonnes of LNG along with 70,000 tonnes of gas condensate, a report by Oil & Gas Journal said.

Stroytransgaz will contribute US$110 million to the project, with an additional US$45.5 million coming from Uzbekneftegaz, US$35.5 million from Uzbekistan's Fund for Reconstruction and Development, and IS$30 million from an unnamed Chinese bank.


MINIMUM CAPITAL REQUIREMENT FOR COMMERCIAL BANKS SET AT 5M EUROS

TASHKENT. January 4 - In line with the decision of the Board of the Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan changes have been introduced to the Regulation "On the procedures of registration and licensing of banks" registered by the Ministry of Justice on 13 December 2007 under No. 630-10.

According to the decision, starting 1 January 2008 the minimum required equity capital for the newly opened commercial banks is established at 5 million euros, and for private banks – at 2.5 million euros or their equivalent according to the exchange rate quoted by the Central Bank on the day when the founders formalize the decision to set up the bank.


ADB EXTENDS US$75.3M TO MODERNIZE MAIN HIGHWAY IN UZBEKISTAN

TASHKENT. January 9 - The Asia Development Bank (ADB) has extended Uzbekistan a loan for US$75.3 million for the development of the main highway that makes up a part of the Central Asian regional transportation corridor.

The Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov "On measures to develop motor roads for public use for 2007-2010" dated 20 December 2006 envisages gradual construction and reconstruction of the motor roads for more efficient integration into the world transportation system: northern and north-western directions providing access to the countries of CIS and Europe, and south-western and southern directions opening access to the ports of the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea.

The project was developed based on this resolution, a source at ADB Uzbekistan Office told UzA. The funds lent will be used for the development of two segments of the A-389 highway that stretch to the total of 1,200 kilometers and connects the Uzbek-Kazakh border in the north and the Uzbek-Afghan and Uzbek-Turkmen borders in the south.

The total budget of the project on the development of the highway and strengthening of the potential of the road sector makes up US$173.5 million.

The first segment of the road to be reconstructed is 40 kilometers loan and is located in the Kungrad district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The second, 91 kilometers long, is located in the Khazarasp district of Khorezm region and Turtkul district of Karakalpakstan. For the selection of subcontractors for the completion of the works it is planned to invite international tenders.

A part of the funds will be used to assist the improvement of management and technical support of the network of automobile roads of the country through the strengthening of potential of the institutions and organizations in the motor-road sector, improvement of the planning and financial management, and procurement of road-construction equipment. This highway bears vital importance for the strengthening of the economic growth of Uzbekistan and Central Asia as a whole. It will reduce the travel time and the transportation costs.


NUMBER OF MOBILE USERS IN UZBEKISTAN EXCEEDS 6 MILLION

TASHKENT. January 10 - During the past five years there is observed rapid development of mobile communication networks in the Republic of Uzbekistan along with the growth of the number of mobile phone users.

The first million of mobile subscribers was registered in November 2005, and in the beginning of 2007 their number comprised 2.7 million, a report posted on the website of the Uzbek Agency for Communication and Informatization (UzACI) said.

The number of mobile users grew by 3.1 million during 2007 and made up some 5.8 million by the year end. It means that the total number of mobile communication subscribers in Uzbekistan increased more than 2 times in 2007, the report said.

If compared with the previous year, the number of mobile users rose by 1.5 million in 2006. So, the growth rate made up 200% in 2007 against the indicator of 2006.

The number of mobile users in the country exceeded 6 million in the first decade of December 2008, according to the latest data of UzACI.

The Uzbek market of mobile services has five operators, namely MTS-Uzbekistan (Uzdunrobita, GSM), Unitel (Beeline trademark, GSM), Coscom (GSM), Perfectum Mobile (Rubicon Wireless Communication, CDMA) and UzbekTelecom Mobile, subsidiary of UzbekTelecom joint-stock company (Uzmobile trademark, CDMA).


TURKISH PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY OPENS ITS OFFICES IN UZBEKISTAN, AZERBAIJAN

TASHKENT. January 10 - Deva Holding A.S., a subsidiary of EastPharma, has announced the successful opening of its authorized representative offices in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

The launch of the Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan offices are further steps in EastPharma's expansion strategy, which is focused on the high growth pharmaceutical markets of Turkey, the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and surrounding regions, the company said in its announcement to Istanbul Stock Exchange on 9 January.

The new offices are responsible for the registration of pharmaceutical products in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan and liaising with the Azeri and Uzbek health authorities.

Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan are among the most under penetrated pharmaceutical markets in EastPharma's target region. Although there is no official data for these markets, the generally accepted market size for these countries is between US$400 million and US$700 million individually.

The offices will initially register selected products from Deva's range of 217 products as well as the products of Saba, the Turkish pharmaceutical producer acquired by EastPharma in May 2007, with the Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan pharmaceutical licensing authorities during the course of 2008.

The Azerbaijan representative office of Deva Holding has been opened in Baku, and the Uzbekistan representative office in Tashkent. Including these new representative offices, EastPharma's subsidiary Deva has four representative offices in total in the former Soviet Union: Georgia, Russia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.


UZBEKISTAN TO RAISE GAS PRICE FOR RUSSIA BY 50% - REPORT

TASHKENT. January 10 - Uzbekistan will charge Russia up to 50% more for natural gas exports in 2008, the Russian daily Gazeta reported on 10 January, citing a report by an Uzbek investment company.

The report by the Avesta Investment Group said the price of gas exports will be US$130 per 1,000 cubic metres in the first half of 2008, rising to US$150 in the second half.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom declined to comment on the report, Gazeta said.

Russia depends on imports of natural gas from the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for domestic needs and to fulfil gas export agreements at higher prices to Ukraine and western Europe.

In 2007, Uzbekistan sold Gazprom 9 billion cubic metres of gas at US$100 per 1,000 cubic metres. Turkmenistan has also increased the price of its gas exports to Russia for 2008 up to US$150.


KYRGYZSTAN'S OUTSTANDING GAS DEBT TO UZBEKISTAN TO BE RESTRUCTURED

TASHKENT. January 10 - Kyrgyzstan's outstanding gas debt to Uzbekistan may be restructured and paid back over the period of five years, Director-General of KyrgyzGaz OJSC Salamat Aytikeev said in a press conference on 9 January in Bishkek, Kyrgyz media reports.

Aytikeev said the company's debt to Uzbekistan made up some US$ 4 billion, and the debt of Electric Stations OJSC – US$14 million. He did not specify what debt was to be restructured – the total or each of the two companies' individually.

He informed that the agreement on gas supplies for this current year was signed with the assistance of the Government of Kyrgyzstan, which provided a US$12 million loan at the interest of 6% pa. This sum was required as an advance payment for gas by Uzbekistan. Aytikeev said these were the only conditions on which the parties could come to agreement.

In 2008 KyrgyzGaz OJSC will be supplied the necessary amount of fuel estimated at 750 million cbm.


GM DAEWOO AIMS TO SELL 140,000 VEHICLES IN SOUTH KOREA THIS YEAR

TASHKENT. January 14 - GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. - a unit of General Motors Corp. (GM) - Monday said it aims to sell 140,000 vehicles in South Korea this year, up 7.2% from 2007, with several new models expected to draw in more buyers.

A company spokesman said GM Daewoo Chief Executive Michael A. Grimaldi told reporters at the Detroit Auto Show that the automaker is aiming also to export 1.86 million units - including complete knockdown units, Dow Jones reported. This makes the year's total sales target 2 million units.

In 2007, the company sold 130,542 units at home and exported 1.76 million units, which included 926,446 CKDs. GM's South Korean unit will introduce an upgraded version of the mid-size Tosca sedan this month and resume sales of the 0.8-liter Damas and Labo mini cars in April after satisfying South Korea's new strict emission standards. It has continued to produce LPG models of Damas and Labo for export. Also, the company will launch the 3.6-liter premium Statesman sedan in the third quarter and a new sub-midsize sedan in the fourth.

In a move to expand overseas sales, GM Daewoo will set up joint ventures in Poland and Uzbekistan in the second quarter to produce small cars and mini cars based on its CKDs.

In September last year, the company had said it would buy a 40% stake in Poland's state-owned automaker FSO for KRW238.7 billion (US$255 million) to set up a joint venture. GM Daewoo is also seeking a joint venture with a car manufacturing facility in Uzbekistan. The plants in Poland and Uzbekistan were once owned by the now-defunct Daewoo Motor.

General Motors and its partners took a controlling stake in some of Daewoo Motor's assets in 2002 to create GM Daewoo. But other Daewoo plants in East Europe and FSO were excluded from the deal.


UZDAEWOOAUTO TO LAUNCH PRODUCTION OF UPDATED VERSION OF NEXIA IN FEBRUARY

TASHKENT. January 16 (Interfax) - UzDaewooAuto will launch the production of an updated version of Nexia car in February 2008, Interfax reported quoting a source in the administration of UzAvtoProm joint-stock company.

"Presently, testing of the updated Nexia is being held in the plant and, as expected, its mass production will start from February 2008," he said. It is expected that the first Nexia New will be supplied to Russia in February-March this year.

The updated version of Nexia will be sold in the domestic market under the Chevrolet brand, and the export variant will have traditional Daewoo brand. The new version will have changed of front and rear bumpers, lightning elements, interior of saloon and control devices.

As reported earlier, UzDaewooAuto signed contract with Concept Group in 2005 for the development of design and introducing changes in the production of Nexia car. Initially, it was planned to launch production of new Nexia in 2006, but the terms were changed due to search for strategic partner.

UzDaewooAuto was founded on parity basis between the government of Uzbekistan and Daewoo Motor (South Korea). In 1996, the company commissioned a car construction plant in Andijan region with project capacity of 200,000 cars annually.

Uzbekistan purchased 50% of Daewoo Motor in the joint venture in October 2005. Currently, UzAvtoProm is holding 100% share package of UzDaewooAuto. The plant manufactures four models of cars. The level of localization of spare parts at the enterprise makes up nearly 50%.

UzAvtoProm and General Motors founded GM Uzbekistan joint venture in October 2007 to produce and sell Chevrolet cars in Uzbekistan on the basis of UzDaewooAuto.


UZDAEWOOAUTO'S PRODUCTION UP 26.5% IN JAN-NOV 2007
TASHKENT. January 18 - The production of cars at UzDaewooAuto CJSC (Asaka, Andijan region) increased by 26.5% in January-November 2007 compared to the same period of 2006 to 159,419, according to the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan.

In particular, the output volume of cars of the Nexia model made up 78,281 (up 17.1%), Matiz – 58,796 (up 32.2%), Damas – 19,446 (up 36.1%), Lacetti – 1,722 (up 4.5 times), Epica – 207, Tacuma – 863, Captiva – 104 (the assembly of the latter three models was launched in October 2007).

The production of cars at the enterprise in 2006 had grown by 38.7% compared to 2005 to 140,080. The volumes of export grew 1.55 times to 82,500 units, and the volume of shipments to the local market – by 29.3% to 59,600.

The target set for 2007 was 180,000 cars. In 2008 the enterprise plans to reach a new target – 200,000 cars yearly.

UzDaewooAuto CJSC was set up on parity basis by the UzAvtoProm Uzbek Association of Automobile Building Enterprises and South Korean Daewoo Motors. In 1996 the JV launched a car factory worth US$650 million.

In May 2005 UzAvtoProm JSC bought out Daewoo Motors' 50% stake in the venture for some US$110 million. In the mid-October 2005 UzDaewooAuto prolonged the contract with the American General Motors for the delivery of component parts to 2010.

In September 2007, General Motors and UzAvtoProm set up GM Uzbekistan on the base of the Asaka factory. GM Uzbekistan will assemble three Chevrolet models – Captiva, Epica, and Tacuma. The total capacity of the plant is 50,000 units with the possibility of upgrading to full-scale production within three years.

According to the terms of the contract on the establishment of joint venture, General Motors has 25% interest in the enterprise, with the possibility of subsequently increasing it to 40%.

NOKIA SIEMENS NETWORKS STRENGTHENS ITS POSITION IN UZBEK MARKET

TASHKENT. January 18 - On 16 January Nokia Siemens Networks held a press briefing announcing its entry into the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan and the prospects of the development of this sector in the country.

The Director for Turkey, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Region Shashank Kumar, the Head of the division for negotiations with the key customers Murat Kurchuval, the Director for work with key customers of the Coscom Mikko Yula-Kauttu and the Director General of the Nokia Siemens Networks Tashkent Bahtiyar Muminov participated in the event on behalf of Nokia Siemens Networks.

The representatives of the largest media in Uzbekistan were invited to learn about Nokia Siemens Networks' plans in Uzbekistan, the company's vision on the development of the telecommunications industry in the future, and the advantages of expanding the use of modern mobile communication in Uzbekistan. They were also given an opportunity to ask questions and interview the representatives of the company.

Speaking of partnership, the Head of the Division responsible for negotiations with key customers of Nokia Siemens Networks Murat Kirchuval said: "The market of Uzbekistan is one of the most fast growing markets in Central Asia, and we believe that it has a great potential. At Nokia Siemens Networks we create solutions to suit any market needs. Our partnership with Coscom is given special importance, as it once again confirms are intention to deliver comprehensive innovative solutions and services to satisfy specific needs of the specific market."
According to the contract, Coscom chose Nokia Siemens Networks as a contactor for "turn-key" construction of the nation-wide mobile communication network in Uzbekistan. The agreement envisages the replacement of the existing network with the simultaneous expansion of the coverage zones and capacity. The sum of the contract signed for the period of two years comprises US$152 million.

"We have a strong position in the market of Uzbekistan and aim to become a preferred supplier of services and solutions, and become a trusted partner of our customers. Nokia Siemens Networks works with the majority of Uzbek operators of fixed and mobile communication and is prepared to provide a wide range of products and services to communication operators," the Director-General of the Nokia Siemens Networks Tashkent LLC, Muminov said. "We see the prospects of developing the telecommunications market of Uzbekistan and are prepared to satisfy the growing demand of the Uzbek mobile communication users."

Nokia Siemens Networks is the world's leading supplier of telecommunication solutions and services, one of the largest suppliers of telecommunication equipment. The company is present in more than 150 countries of the world. It is headquartered in Espoo, Finland. The company provides a wide range of infrastructural products and solutions in the field of mobile and fixed communication networks and satisfies the growing demand for the complementary services. The company's main production bases are sited in China, Finland, Germany, India, Italy and Spain.


KURILISH-LEASING SUPPLIES CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY FOR US$4.42M IN 2007
TASHKENT. January 21 Kurilish-Leasing OJSC leases construction technology, special transportation, small mechanization tools and spare parts of foreign producers to the construction subcontracting organizations operating in Uzbekistan.

The company's mission is to develop renting and leasing services in the segment of capital construction in the Republic of Uzbekistan. In 2007 the company supplied 74 units of different types of construction technology for the total amount of US$4.42 million, and by 2008 it had handed over to the construction organizations the total of 68 pieces of equipment for over US$4.085 million.

Construction technology has been leased in 8 regions of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Karakalpakstan. A large number of equipment has been leased in Khorezm and Bukhara regions.
At this time six HOWO dump-trucks worth US$332,880 are in the customs office awaiting the completion of the paperwork and other necessary procedures.

The range of the small mechanization tools supplied was determined according to the requests received from the regional "one customer" services in advance. Thus, in the twelve months of 2007, the company leased the subcontractor construction organizations of the region different types of small mechanization tools in the amount of 626 units for the total amount of over US$313,700.

Kurilish-Leasing Open Joint-Stock Leasing Company was established on 23 October 2003. Its founders are the National Bank of Uzbekistan for Foreign Economic Activity, Asaka Bank, Pakhta Bank, UzPromStroyBank, Ipoteka Bank, Uzbekistan Temir Yullari (Uzbekistan Railways) Comopany, UzbekNefteGaz (Uzbek Oil and Gas) National Holding Company, and UzbekEnergo State Company.

ARABIC COORDINATION GROUP MEMBERS TO PROVIDE UZBEKISTAN US$797.9 MILLION

TASHKENT. January 23 - President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov approved the list of 17 investment projects at the expense of the Arabic Coordination Group (ACG) members.

Total cost of the projects makes up some US$1 billion, including 12 concrete investment intentions with attraction of credits worth US$499.6 million and developmental work on attraction of US$298.3 million for the implementation of five projects. Provision of resources is planned for 2008/12.

ACG includes Islamic Development Bank, and Arabic stock markets – Saudi Development Fund, Abu Dhabi Development Fund, OPEC Development Fund, Kuwait Fund for Arabic Economy Development.

It is planned to direct the largest volume of credit resources worth US$340 million on the realization of five projects in the sphere of irrigation and melioration. In particular, some US$150 million will be attracted during five years for commissioning collectors in Khorezm region, as well as US$79 million for reconstruction of irrigation network and drainage system in Jizzakh and Syrdarya regions.

According to official statistics, the volume of project financing with participation of Arabic financial institutions has comprised nearly US$200 million so far. Particularly, IDB provided Uzbekistan US$114.6 million for the implementation of nine projects in the social sphere. The Kuwait Fund for Arabic Economy Development issued US$61.4 million for the implementation of three projects in the field of reconstruction of railway infrastructure. OPEC provided US$10 million for two projects in railway transport sector.


EBRD TO APPROPRIATE MCFF FOR COMPANIES OF CENTRAL ASIA, SOUTHERN CAUCASUS
TASHKENT. January 24 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is launching the programme of Medium-Sized Loan Co-Financing Facility (MCFF) for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

According to the statement issued by the EBRD, the registration of the consultants according to the MCFF approved on 30 September 2003 in the amount of 60 million euros for local companies of the said regions has already been started.

"The registration is not being limited by deadlines, but the programme funding will be launched by the end of January staring with Armenia," the statement says.

Companies with the budget of at least 50,000 euros for the past 12 months are eligible to apply for registration. The maximum budget for the consulting services in the region will constitute 250,000 euros.

The MCFF is for co-financing with leading local banks in the early transition countries (ETCs) and the Western Balkan countries and other suitable countries where the companies have outgrown the countries' financial sector. The facility meets the demand for medium-sized loans by prime local private companies.

The EBRD's co-financing takes the form of funded or unfunded risk participation. Under the funded scheme, the EBRD provides a recourse credit line to the partner bank and a non recourse sub loan to the local private company. Whereas in the unfunded portion, the EBRD will share the underlying risk of a guarantee issued by the partner bank to the local private company.

The EBRD's risk participation will normally not exceed 50% of the credit exposure of the partner bank, but can be up to 66.7% with OpsCom approval. Sub-loan or risk exposure size is expected to be up to 8 million euros.

The MCFF enhances the EBRD's operations and diversify its operational instruments in the selected countries, while assisting successful local banks to better manage risk exposures to its large customers.

UZBEK-RUSSIAN TRADE UP 40% TO US$4.2 BILLION IN 2007 - REPORT
TASHKENT. January 24 (RIA Novosti) - Trade between Russia and Uzbekistan grew by 40% to reach US$4.2 billion in 2007, RIA Novosti reported quoting Russia's ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Farit Mukhametshin said the main fields of cooperation included trade, energy, the food industry, finance, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, the pharmaceutical industry, and other spheres. "The number of joint ventures set up in Uzbekistan with Russian investments is over 500," Mukhametshin said. The ambassador also said Russia and Uzbekistan had effectively collaborated in social, cultural, educational, humanitarian and other fields.

In 2006, mutual trade between the two former Soviet republics was around $3 billion.

19% OF INVESTMENTS IN UZBEKISTAN MADE IN FUEL AND ENERGY SECTOR
TASHKENT. January 25 Uzbekistan has summed up the preliminary economic results for the year 2007. The share of the production investments in the country made up 67% (against 64.1% in 2006).

The largest volumes of investments are made in the projects in the fields of transportation and communication (23.9% of the total volume of investments), fuel and energy complex, chemical and petro-chemical industries (19.9%).

The total of 234 investment projects were completed in the food sector (91 objects), light industry (44), construction materials production (56), fuel and energy complex and metallurgy (21), and other industrial segments.

In the oil and gas industry, the output growth was supported through more intensive processing of the materials produced, as a result of which the production of auto-petrol has grown by 4.5%, liquefied natural gas (6.9%), and diesel fuel (0.8%), Oilru.com reported.

UZBEKISTAN AIRWAYS TRANSPORTS 2 MILLION PASSENGERS IN 2007

TASHKENT. January 26 (UzA) - Uzbekiston Havo Yollari (Uzbekistan Airways) national airline conveyed 2 million passengers and 20,000 tonnes of cargo in 2007. For over the last years the company gained the confidence of its clients and expanded the sphere of its activities in the international market of transportation.

In May and June last year the company administration signed contracts with the Boeing Company on procurement of two Boeing-787 and Dreamliner aircraft. It has also cut a deal with Airbus Consortium on procurement of six aircraft A-320-200.

The project financing has been launched. As a result, Uzbekistan Airways will acquire four more locally-made aircraft Il-114-100. The modernization of Uzbekistan Airways fleet will allow raise the competitiveness of national air carrier in the international markets in the nearest future, increase the network of direct routes from Tashkent, ensure the company's sustainable development and accomplishment of forecast indicators.

From July 2007 the national company established the two more new international destinations: to Milan in Italy twice a week and along the route Tashkent-Cairo-Athens-Tashkent once a week.

According to the company news release, last year it undertook 22,935 flights, including 297 charters. It transported over 1.9 million passengers that is 16.5% more than in 2006. The volume of the transported cargo accounted for over 20,000 tonnes that is 1,000 tonnes more than in 2006.


RUSSIAN, CHINESE COMPANIES TO BUILD POTASSIUM FERTILIZERS FACTORY IN UZBEKISTAN

TASHKENT. January 28 Western-Ural Machine Building Concern (Perm, Russia), and Chinese CITIC Pacific Ltd have signed contracts for some US$100 million with the UzKimyoSanoat (Uzbek Chemical Industry) State Joint-Stock Company for the "turn key" construction of a potassium fertilizers factory in Dekhkanabad, the President's special resolution states.

The Chinese party will be responsible for the construction of the processing and the Russian party – of the mining complexes. The project worth some US$123.67 million will be financed by the Uzbek Fund for Reconstruction and Development, the Chinese Export Import Bank and UzKimyoSanoat itself.

The first potassium ore is expected to be extracted by 1 July 2009, and as soon as by October same year the plant will produce its first output. The factory is based on Tyubegatan field of potassium minerals in Kashkadarya region on the border with Turkmenistan. Its deposits exceed 400 million tons. Today Uzbekistan imports potassium fertilizers from Russia.


HEINEKEN CREATES VENTURE WITH EBI IN UZBEKISTAN

TASHKENT. January 28 (Reuters) - Heineken NV has set up a joint venture with Efes Breweries International (EBI) in order to invest in the rapidly growing Uzbek beer market, Reuters reported quoting the Dutch brewer.

Heineken will hold 40% and EBI 60% of the shares in the joint venture, with EBI responsible for operational management, Heineken said in a statement. Heineken and EBI added they would also combine their operations in the Kazakh and Serbian beer markets.

"With the combined resources, skills and brands of our two businesses, we believe that we will be able to drive stronger, faster growth than would be possible separately," said Nico Nusmeier, Heineken regional president for central and eastern Europe. "From a strategic Heineken perspective, this deal also leaves us well positioned to achieve leadership positions in three fast-growing Central and Eastern European beer markets," he added.

Heineken, the world's fourth-largest brewer in terms of sales, is looking to expand into fast-growing Eastern European markets. EBI, operates in Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Serbia, where the company has ten breweries with a total annual capacity of 24.6 million hectolitres.

Last week Heineken together with Carlsberg finally agreed to buy rival Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) for 7.8 billion pounds (US$15.3 billion) to carve up Britain's biggest brewer after a three-month takeover saga


CHINA PLANS RAIL LINK TO CENTRAL ASIA FOR OIL

TASHKENT. January 30 China is setting up extensive railway linkages over two different routes to the oil-rich Central Asia. The connectivity it to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan will enhance the competitiveness of Chinese oil companies bidding for energy assets in those countries. This is going to cause some amount of alarm in the US government and in Indian oil companies seeking oil assets in Central Asia, the Times of India reports.

The move also signals the determination of Chinese rulers to build land transportation facilities that would reduce its dependence on sea routes, which are closely monitored by US military ships. A rail link could ensure regular oil supplies to China from Central Asia in the event of a sea blockade and other forms of military action.

The plan involves building two rail routes connecting western China's Xinjiang province with Central Asia. A portion of one route linking Korgas on the China-Kazakhstan border with China's inland railways is expected to be completed within this year. It will be extended to west to join the Sary-Ozek railway of Kazakhstan to create the second cross-border rail link between the two countries.

The project cost has been fixed at US$861 million, said officials attending a meeting on regional trade. The rail project offering opportunities for cost reduction will put Chinese oil companies in a better position to compete for energy assets in Central Asia against bidders from different countries.

Indian oil companies have been involved in tough bidding with their Chinese counterparts in Central Asia over the past two years and a lot more competition is expected in the coming years. China has a rail link of 460 kms connecting Urumqi and Alataw Pass where it connects to Kazakhstan railways.

Government sources said the new route will help reduce the burden on the land port of Alataw Pass, the largest land port in northwest China, which was forced to handle 60% more traffic in 2007 as compared to what it did in 2006 in view of expanding demand.

China has also launched work on designing a second rail route that would start at Kashi (Kaxgar) in Xinjiang and pass through Kyrgyzstan to reach Uzbekistan.

This route is expected to become operational in 2010 and will enable China to reach Europe by improving the connectivity between western China, Central Asia and the southern passageway of the new Euroasia continental bridge.


RUSSIA'S VIMPELCOM BUYS SHARES OF GOLDEN TELECOM IN UZBEKISTAN

TASHKENT. January 30 (Interfax) - The Uzbek State Committee for Demonopolization and Support of Competition and Entrepreneurship has approved the acquisition of 100% of shares of Golden Telecom company by Russia's Vimpelcom open joint-stock company. Golden Telecom has assets in the Republic of Uzbekistan, a source in the committee's administration told Interfax news agency.

"Vimpelcom's request to buy Golden Telecom was received on January 18, and we have granted permission to carry out the deal," the source told the agency.

Golden Telecom has more than 54% shareholding in the Buzton joint venture (Tashkent), which is one of the leading alternative communications operators in Uzbekistan. Other shareholders of Buzton are Uzbek national operator UzbekTelecom and American NCI Projects International Inc.
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