In Brief

Eurobank completes Serb bank buyout EFG Eurobank said yesterday it fully acquired Serbia’s NSB Bank as part of its expansion plans in the country. Eurobank said it bought a remaining 37.7 percent stake in Nacionalna Stedionica Banka (NSB) from the Serbian government for an undisclosed amount. It previously held 62.3 percent. Eurobank said it plans to merge NSB with its operating subsidiary EFG Eurobank Beograd. «We are looking to integrate NSB and EFG Eurobank Beograd into one strong and dynamic institution,» EFG Eurobank’s Chief Executive Nicholas Nanopoulos said in a statement. «The new bank. ..will control about 100 branches, which is one of the largest banking networks in the country, and employ about 1,400 people. We intend to further increase the size of our network.» The merged entity will have combined assets of 276 million euros and deposits of 189 million, based on 2005 data, EFG said. EFG paid 41.5 million euros for its initial 52.5 percent stake in NSB which was subsequently raised to 62.3 percent. Eurobank, also present in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, has said it wants its operations outside Greece to contribute 20 percent of group net earnings by 2009. (Reuters) WTO takes up US complaint against Turkey over rice imports GENEVA – The World Trade Organisation yesterday set up a panel to look into a US complaint that restrictions by Turkey on the import of rice violate global open trading rules. The panel of three trade experts was established at a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). The US complaint focuses on what is says are Turkish requirements that importers first buy large quantities of rice in Turkey before they can be granted a license to import rice from other countries. The measures had restricted sales of rice to Turkey from the United States, as well as from other WTO countries, it argues. Turkey insists that its regulations are legal under WTO rules. The panel is likely to be named within the next two or three weeks, and will then have six months to come up with a ruling. (Reuters) Albania revises growth figures Albania’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose 6.7 percent in 2004, faster than the 5.9 percent growth reported earlier by the Finance Ministry, revised figures of the country’s statistics office INSTAT showed yesterday. The country’s 2004 GDP changed also in current prices and totalled 775.9 billion leks ($7.68 billion/6.31 billion euro), from previously announced 766.5 billion leks, revised data showed. Albania recorded 5.5 percent GDP growth last year. For the current year it forecasts 5.0 percent to 5.5 percent growth. INSTAT had revised economic growth figures for 1996-2004 to harmonize the statistical methods it employs with the international standard European System of Accounts – ESA 1995, the statistics office said in a statement. (SeeNews)