On the radar: What to watch in the weeks ahead
by Kate Bonamici and Barney Gimbel, FORTUNE Magazine

(FORTUNE Magazine) -- With a big IPO, Russian oil's on fire

Russian President Vladimir Putin is already a major player in the global oil market. His country controls more than 5% of the world's reserves, after all. But the status of Putin and Russia as titans in the crude business should be sealed in mid-July when state-owned oil giant Rosneft floats an IPO in Moscow and London that's expected to bring in $15 billion: It would be the third-largest IPO in history.

The offering certainly sounds juicy - Rosneft has bigger oil reserves than Exxon (Charts), profits have nearly quintupled since 2004, and it's a Kremlin favorite - but there's a catch. About 70% of its output comes from a subsidiary of rival Yukos, acquired after its CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was jailed on (possibly politically motivated) tax evasion charges. Still, at the right price, demand for Rosneft stock will be strong - even if some investors have bought the assets once before.

Big $$$ for the FCC

Business giants will descend on the Federal Communications Commission Aug. 9 for the auction of a few swaths of wireless spectrum recently released by the federal government (registration was in late June).

Bidders may include phone company T-Mobile and wireless pioneer Craig McCaw, whose new venture aims to provide high-speed Internet access sans wires. But the real wild cards are non-telecoms like Time Warner (Charts) (parent of FORTUNE's publisher), Microsoft (Charts), and Google (Charts), which have all been eyeing wireless licenses. A bidding war among such deep-pocketed players could net the government up to $15 billion. But it's hardly a victory for wireless operators: More competitors mean more clutter in the already crowded sector.

Let's sleep on it

As the hotel industry revels in a historic boom, the folks making the beds want a piece of the action. The dispute with the major hotel union, Unite Here, over wage and benefit hikes has already hurt business at hotels in San Francisco, where contracts expired two years ago. In July, contracts begin to expire for some 40,000 workers in six cities from Chicago to Honolulu. Union officials say negotiations are ongoing and no strikes are on the calendar - yet. But hotel owners are bracing for the worst.

The futures market

July 7

Happy Birthday, Mr. President! Bush celebrates the big 6-0 by holding trade talks with Canadian PM Stephen Harper at the White House. The top issue? Lumber imports.

July 12

Marvel Comics capitalizes on the rabid Halo fan base (14.5 million units have sold) with a graphic novel based on the videogame smash. Halo 3 is due in 2007 and a movie version in '08.

July 13

To bid, or not to bid: Sotheby's hopes for the former, as a copy of the Bard's First Folio goes on the block. It's expected to garner $5 million plus.

July 15

Listen for rumbles from abroad as foreign companies that file with the SEC must begin to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley.

July 17

It'll be a big day in the U.K. as Airbus is expected to clarify the future of its troubled A350 plane at the Farnborough International Air Show.

Stephanie N. Mehta and Regina Castro contributed to this article. Top of page