Kinross President/CEO Buchan to retire in April, become non-executive chairman

Section:

By Reuters in The Moscow Times
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/01/11/052.html

The ruble should gain ground against major currencies in
2005 and the best place for Russians to keep their
savings will be in ruble bank deposits, Finance Minister
Alexei Kudrin said last week.

Kudrin forecast further weakness in the dollar as the
United States will fail to get to grips with its yawning
current account deficit in the short term.

"That means the dollar will remain weak or get even
weaker for a period of time," Kudrin told state
television in an interview aired last Monday.

"Considering the dynamics of the dollar, euro, and
ruble, I am absolutely confident of my forecast," the
minister said.

"It will be more profitable to deposit rubles in banks
which pay moderate, sensible rates of interest."

The ruble has rallied strongly since October, with
the weak dollar and Russia's booming oil export
revenues pressuring the Central Bank to abandon a
de-facto dollar peg due to mounting inflationary
pressures.

Central Bank dollar-buying intervention pushed up
inflation last year to nearly 12 percent, above a 10
percent target, and boosted forex and gold reserves
to $120 billion -- exceeding Russia's public foreign
debt.

Kudrin was an advocate of loosening the Central
Bank's grip on the ruble, but has also argued for
steady, not sudden, appreciation to preserve what
is left of the competitive advantage stemming from
Russia's 1998 financial crash.

Reassuring Russians whose confidence was shaken
by a banking crisis last summer, Kudrin said there
was no chance of a repeat of the 1998 crisis thanks
to the creation of an oil-fund budget stabilization
fund.

The fund, worth around $20 billion at the end of last
year, is earmarked to pay down foreign debt.

"The 1998 default, devaluation, inflation, and erosion
of wages won't happen in our country thanks to our
stabilization fund," Kudrin said.

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