In Brief

Retirement plan set to lower National Bank’s 2004 earnings National Bank is set to incur 114-million-euro ($140.2 million) costs from its largest ever job cut plan, union leaders said yesterday, which analysts said was likely to weigh on this year’s results. The country’s largest bank last month launched a voluntary redundancy plan for around 1,900 employees, about 14 percent of its 14,000 workforce, to cut costs and bring in new blood. According to documents posted on the bank’s website, the plan will cost 102 million euros for the 1,521 employees who take up the redundancy offer, with annual payroll savings estimated at 70 million euros. Unionists said the cost does not include 12 million euros that the bank has agreed to pay to its employees’ pension fund, and which could go even higher. «There is a deal with management for the bank to pay 8,000 euros per redundancy to the employees’ pension funds,» a union representative told Reuters. «We are negotiating with the bank for more cash for the pension funds,» he added. Sources close to the situation said the bank has not decided whether to book the one-off cost this year or amortize the sum over several years but that a decision is due next week. Analysts said the first option seemed likely. Investment Bank of Greece analyst Sophia Skourti said a one-off cost of 102 million euros would result in a 16.1 percent downward revision of her full-year earnings per share forecast, implying a flat year-on-year result. (Reuters) Turkey’s end-year inflation forecast to be in single figures ISTANBUL – Annual Turkish consumer price inflation is expected to be 9.7 percent at end-2004, down from a previous forecast of 10.5 percent, the central bank’s latest survey of expectations showed yesterday. Turkey targets end-year inflation of 12 percent under its $19 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund. The survey also showed CPI was seen at 9.0 percent in one year’s time, down from the previous forecast of 9.5 percent. The survey also showed 2004 gross national product was forecast to grow 8.3 percent, up from a prediction of 7.9 percent in the last poll. Turkey set a target of 5 percent GNP growth by the end of 2004 under its IMF deal but expectations have risen sharply after strong growth in the first half. GNP grew by 14.4 percent in the second quarter and 12.4 percent in the first quarter. The central bank uses the twice monthly survey of nearly 80 financial leaders to help set monetary policy. The survey predicted the lira would be at 1,567,300 lira against the dollar at end-2004, compared with an earlier forecast of 1,586,600 lira. The forecast for the country’s year-end current account deficit rose to $12.363 billion from $12.138 billion. The government targets a 2004 deficit of $10.8 billion. The deficit stood at $9.822 billion in the first eight months of the year. (Reuters) Sale losses There is a significant drop in sales for the majority of goods sold at supermarkets, a survey shows. Out of 127 product categories, sales in 79 declined during the first eight months of the year. The decline ranges from 0.2 percent to 32 percent. The declining sales affect items such as soaps and shampoos, cosmetics, soft drinks, coffee and liquors, except vodka and wine.