ECONOMY

In Brief

Alpha Bank doubles bet on Romanian subsidiary Alpha Bank recently almost doubled the capital base of its Romanian subsidiary by injecting 126 million euros through a share capital increase of 66 million euros and a subordinated debt issue of 60 million, it said in a statement yesterday. Alpha Bank Romania’s capital now comes to 240 million euros. «Romania is a strong growth hub in the area of Southeast Europe with a market of 22 million people. With its impending entry into the EU, economic and financial sector prospects are excellent,» the statement said. Alpha Bank, which was the first foreign bank to invest in Romania, now has about 30 branches in the country and a 4 percent market share. In 2004, assets, loans and deposits grew by 40 percent, 35 percent and 45 percent respectively. «We believe we can expand efficiently through organic growth, and expect to have 150 branches by the end of 2008,» the bank said. Turkish trade deficit hits record in August ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s trade deficit hit a new record in August, rising 51.8 percent year on year to $4.840 billion and exceeding last month’s record high, State Statistics Institute (DIE) data showed yesterday. The deficit was $4.085 billion in July. Economists said that high oil prices and a strong lira currency were fueling imports, while cheap Chinese goods curbed Turkish exports, resulting in higher trade deficits. A big trade gap is exacerbating the current account deficit, whose sustainability is questioned by some economists. Imports surged 28.9 percent year on year in August to $10.164 billion, and exports rose by 13.4 percent to $5.324 billion. The trade deficit in the Jan.-Aug. period rose 26.5 percent to $28.555 billion. Imports rose by 20.7 percent in this period to $74.761 billion and exports rose by 17.4 percent to $46.206 billion. The government has set an export target of $71 billion and projects imports at $104 billion for 2005. Vodafone eyes Turkey Britain’s Vodafone Group Plc, the world’s biggest cell phone company, will seek further acquisitions in Europe and may bid for Turkey’s Telsim, CEO Arun Sarin said in Prague yesterday. Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Czech Republic, where Vodafone recently bought the country’s smallest mobile operator, Oskar, Sarin said Vodafone would wait for reasonably priced acquisition opportunities in Europe and Russia. The nearest opportunity, however, is in Turkey, where Vodafone is among 10 firms ready to bid for Telsim by a Dec. 5 deadline. «I hope so,» Sarin said when asked whether Vodafone would bid, but added that the move had yet to be approved by the company’s board. «It’s an interesting country with a high population, and the penetration is low there,» he said. (Reuters) Tsakos Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd on Thursday said its board has approved additional repurchase of $40 million in shares. In a statement, the company said it had a completed share buyback under a $20 million program announced in May. Tsakos said it repurchased and retired 526,565 shares at an average cost of $37.98 per share. (Reuters)