Washington, March 1 (RFE/RL) - Despite the uncertainties
raised by the Russian Presidential election campaign, North American
companies continue to expand their involvement in Russia.
A small Washington area engineering firm says it has reached
agreement with Polyot Enterprises of Russia on an 80 million dollar
deal to use four Cosmos rockets to launch a global data messaging
system of 26 low-earth-orbiting satellites.
The U.S. firm, Final Analysis Inc., says actual signing of the
pact must await a U.S. Federal Communications Commission decision on
licensing the system for two-way paging, messaging, and
cargo-tracking. Final Analysis is among five companies vying for the
If the company wins the license, it plans to have Polyot launch
the satellites from Plesetsk, Russia.
In a more mundane area of commerce, an investment group based in
the Bahamas islands has taken control of the world's largest paperbag
maker, the insolvent AOOT Segezhaumprom enterprise of Russia.
The Stratton Group, the private investment vehicle of
financier-industrialist Michael Dingman, recently disclosed that it
had taken a majority stake in the paper mill in the town of Segezha
on the Russian-Finnish border. The shares were purchased anonymously
from international institutional investors and employees of the firm
who had received shares in a 1994 voucher privatization program.
The Russian government still owns 20 percent of the firm.
Stratton has signed the Swedish forestry and paper group AssiDoman AB
to take operational control of the company and restructure it to
improve productivity and make it profitable on world markets.
A major Canadian company, meantime, says it has acquired an 80
percent participating interest in the Ametystovoe gold mine in
Kamchatka, Russia. Far East Gold, Inc. of Montreal says it paid more
than 2.6 million dollars and issued two million shares of stock to
buy the stake in the mine, which has reserves of around 91,000
kilograms of gold and 312,000 kilograms of silver
More broadly, a New York-based insurance broker, Marsh &
McLennan, Inc., says it has developed an insurance underwriting and
crime protection program for smaller and mid sized companies
operating throughout the former Soviet Union.
American firms have often complained that it is difficult, if not
impossible, to get various forms of insurance for business operations
and property in Russia and other neighboring nations.
The program, to be underwritten by a syndicate of international
insurance companies, will provide up to 25 million dollars in
protection for joint venture assets, imported and exported goods and
employees at risk. Also available, says the company, will be a wide
variety of cargo insurance, personal accident, medical and other