President meets magnates over dinner to discus financial crisis

President Dmitry Medvedev met Thursday evening with Russian corporate tycoons to discuss how the global financial crisis is affecting the real sector of the economy. The business leaders are looking for faster moves to keep business turning over through

Oleg Deripaska, Viktor Vekselberg, Mikhail Prokhorov, Alisher Usmanov and Vladimir Potanin were among the guests at a dinner with the president in Barvikha, a luxury village near Moscow.

On the menu was likely to have been the tycoons foreign debts, and how the government is helping to refinance them.  The magnates have seen the market value of their assets plummet by billions of dollars, and some have received state help as part of a bailout worth $200 Billion dollars.

Deripaska has already handed over stakes in construction giant Hochtief and car parts firm Magna. His company RusAl has received a refinancing loan for its stake in Norilsk Nickel from state-owned VEB.  Chris Weafer, Chief Strategist at Uralsib believes they will press for a faster movement of cash into the real sectors of the economy;

“There is a major slowdown in the economy and some of the big industries that are owned by the tycoons of course are particularly suffering. In some material industries like steel and metals, you know, there is practically zero activity taking place. So what they can do for the broader economy is to try and force some of the money that they've made available into the economy. And not just into the accounts of big banks.”

Another touchy subject hurting the business leaders is the falling price of oil and other commodities, which has led some exporting companies to back calls for a cheaper ruble.  But Medvedev and other officials insist the government won’t devalue the currency. The president has held several anti-crisis discussions with top business leaders in recent months.

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