ECONOMY

In Brief

Greece second in foreign direct investment in Bulgaria Greek companies invested $20.1 million in Bulgaria during the first quarter of 2005, according to the country’s Foreign Investment Service (BFIA). This brought the total of Greek direct investment in the country since January 1992 to $1,054 million, in second place among all countries behind Austria, whose enterprises have invested $1,829 million. Austria has surpassed Greece in the last few years, particularly after investing $927.3 million in 2004 – against Greece’s $156.9 million – and $163.2 million in the first quarter of this year, mainly in the acquisition of Bulgaria’s national telecoms utility. The Netherlands is in third place, with direct investment since January 1992 of $939.5 million, and Germany third, with $897.1 million. In total, $379.7 million was invested in Bulgaria in the first quarter of 2005, bringing the total to $10,524 million. Financial services attracted the lion’s share of such investment, in the form of acquisitions of shares in Bulgarian banks. Government bond prices record a fall in July Greek government bonds traded on the electronic secondary securities market (HDAT) recorded losses in July, in line with international markets. Yields rose over the entire maturity spectrum but with the biggest increase in short-term maturities, according to data released by the Bank of Greece yesterday. The 10-year yield increased by 4 bps to 3.44 percent and the 32-year bond yield by 5 bps to 4.07 percent. Benchmark bond prices fell between 49 bps at the short end of the curve and 102 bps at the long end. The trading volume totaled 52.48 billion euros’ worth of transactions. Investor interest was mainly focused on bonds, with remaining maturities between 7 and 15 years, which absorbed 62 percent of the overall traded volume. The most actively traded bond was the 10-year benchmark, which recorded 13.24 billion euros’ worth of transactions. Hellenic Exchanges Hellenic Exchanges, the holding company that owns the Athens stock and futures bourses, said yesterday that first-half group net profit after minorities fell 9 percent year-on-year to 13.1 million euros ($16.2 million). Results were affected by non-recurring financial income and weaker revenues from derivatives trading, it said. Reporting financial results under IFRS, the operator said group turnover in the year’s first half grew 2 percent to 34.2 million euros, mainly boosted by higher stock market trading volumes. Daily average trading volume on the Athens Stock Exchange rose 19 percent to 189 million euros in the first half from 157 million in 2004. (Reuters) Bulgarian power exports Bulgaria’s state power firm NETC, the Balkan region’s main energy exporter, posted a 42 percent increase in power exports from January to June on an annual basis, the company said yesterday. The company exported 3,864 gigawatt hours in the first six months of the year, versus 2,713 in the same period a year earlier, it said in a statement. NETC exports energy to Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Serbia and Montenegro, covering 75 percent of the energy deficit in the Balkans. (Reuters)