ECONOMY

In Brief

Romtelecom privatization proceeds inviting foreign banks’ letter of intent BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania has set an August 25 deadline for letters of intent from foreign banks willing to advise on the sale of its 45.99 percent stake in fixed-line carrier Romtelecom, majority owned by Greek state telecom OTE. Romania’s centrist government, which came to power in December, plans to complete by 2006 the privatization of Romtelecom, the country’s largest telecoms operator. Internationally reputable investment banks must submit letters of intent by August 25 at 1400 GMT, Romania’s Communication Ministry said in a statement yesterday. Romania had said it wants to sell its remaining stake through an initial public offering and float the company’s shares on the Bucharest stock exchange and on a foreign bourse, yet to be selected. Romtelecom is OTE’s biggest investment abroad and employs about 15,000 workers. It reported a net profit of 107.1 million euros last year, reversing a 13.1-million-euro loss in 2003. Romtelecom’s revenues grew by 5 percent to 839.1 million euros in 2004, when the company managed to slash operational expenditures by 4 percent to 554.1 million euros. Earnings boost is expected in medium term for Agricultural Bank Agricultural Bank (ATE) shares gained almost 8 percent yesterday after UBS started coverage of the stock at «buy 2» with a price target of 7.0 euros. UBS said in a note on Monday it expected ATE to show a significant earnings uplift over the medium term. This, together with an improving asset mix, should sustain strong cash flow generation and a strong dividend payout or share buyback program, it added. «Greek institutional investors who are tracking the mid-cap index FTSE 40 are buying ATE shares because of its high weighting in the index and after the UBS report,» a trader said. ATE has a 9.5 percent weighting in the mid-cap index. The stock closed 7.83 percent up at 4.68 euros. It had earlier hit a fresh year-to-date high of 4.76 euros. (Reuters) Turkish refineries State-run Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the country’s largest refiner, has submitted an initial bid for 51 percent of Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corp, India’s oil minister said yesterday. «Due diligence process is currently in progress. The binding bid will have to be submitted to the privatization administration of Turkey by September 2,» Mani Shankar Aiyar told Parliament. Aiyar also said IOC had abandoned plans to buy stakes in Nigeria’s Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri refineries and petrochemical complexes, having previously submitted expressions of interest. (Reuters) Kozloduy back on Bulgaria’s nuclear power plant Kozloduy has brought a 1,000 megawatt unit back online after annual maintenance that ended two days earlier than planned, the company announced on Monday. Kozloduy also shut down a 440 MW unit last month for repairs and refueling. It has yet to come back online. The plant, which produces 40 percent of the Balkan state’s power, said its other two operational units – one 440 MW and another 1,000 MW reactor – were working at 98 and 87 percent of capacity, respectively. (Reuters)