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Russian President Endorses State Grain Trader

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree endorsing the establishment of United Grain Company, a wholly state-owned grain trader, the Kremlin said March 23.

The new company is being created to raise domestic grain purchases and sales and export volumes, as well as to upgrade and build elevators and port terminals, the decree published on the Kremlin website www.kremlin. ru said.

The decree adds the new company to the list of strategic enterprises, which prevents foreigners from gaining control of it. But it says the government should invite private companies to participate in the trader.

It gives the government nine months to finalize the creation of the trader.

The United Grain Company includes the state-owned Food Market Regulation agency, the agent for government grain intervention purchases and sales and exporter of grain under humanitarian aid and other state programs.

Its capacity will be enhanced by transferring to it government stakes of 25.5 per cent to 100 per cent-minus-one share in 31 grain silos, port elevators and flour mills, the decree said.

The head of a powerful grain lobby, the Russian Grain Union, Arkady Zlochevsky told Reuters in an interview in January that it might take one month or one month and a half after the signing of the decree to effectively transfer the assets.

Zlochevsky said then the most important assets of the new major player on the Russian grain market included two sea export terminals with a joint capacity to ship out up to five million tonnes of grain a year.

Russia aims to export a record 18 million tonnes of grain in the current 2008-09 marketing year started in July. The government has bought nearly eight million tonnes into its stocks and targets to buy another two million.

Analysts have said the new company may be involved in exporting part of these stocks.

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