Russian nuclear interest Rosenergoatom could be converted into a joint stock company as soon as 2006, according to comments attributed to Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Rosatom.

Rosatom is said to be holding talks with the Economic Development and Trade Ministry on probable scenarios that would maintain state control over Rosenergoatom, as set out in the statute books, while allowing private investment and the influence of the market economy to yield results. A joint-stock corporation will enable state control over nuclear facilities while making it easier to raise long-term loans and investment, Rumyantsev reportedly said.

Meanwhile, in other Russian news, state-owned power giant UES plans to increase its stake in Power Machines, the largest manufacturer of equipment for hydro, thermal, and nuclear power plants.

UES plans to acquire 22.43% of Power Machines from major private investment firm Interros, bringing its holding to 25% plus one share, the company said. The UES board is expected to discuss the issue in late September.

UES has also reached a preliminary agreement with Interros on the remainder of its 30% holding in Power Machines in which the companies will run the block jointly. Power Machines accounts for more than 60% of the Russian market on steam turbines.