In Brief

Bulgaria risks losing EU funds unless it drafts more quality projects SOFIA – Bulgaria should speed up drafting quality projects to avoid losing millions of euros in EU funds after joining the bloc, Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski said yesterday. The country will join the European Union in 2007 or 2008, clearing the way for some 12 billion euros in structural and development funds through 2013. Oresharski said Bulgaria should prepare better to make the most of the infusion of funds. The 10 new EU members that joined in 2004 used an average of 36 percent of the funds available to them last year. «We are working to turn project drafting into a business because only quality projects can get financing,» he told a news conference. Sofia aims to spend around 4.2 percent of expected GDP, or around 1 billion euros of EU finds in 2007, and sees that rising to 7.5 percent in three years. (Reuters) Cosmote to lend 160 mln euros to its subsidiary in Romania Mobile operator Cosmote has agreed to lend its Romanian subsidiary up to 160 million euros, it said yesterday. Cosmote had announced in June that it would issue 160 million euros in short-term debt to use as working capital. «The facility is part of Cosmote Romania’s financing schedule, up to a total of 400 million euros during the period 2006-2008,» Cosmote said in a statement. It said part of the loan will refinance an existing 30-million-euro facility Cosmote Romania has already received from Cosmote. (Reuters) Finansbank profits Turkey’s Finansbank’s non-consolidated first half net profit rose 56 percent year-on-year to 275 million lira (146.3 million euros), the bank said in a statement yesterday. Greece’s largest lender, National Bank, clinched a deal in April to buy 46 percent in Finansbank for 2.2 billion euros from the Ozyegin family. Finansbank said its net interest revenue rose 11 percent year-on-year to 445 million lira and its total assets jumped 39 percent to 17.076 billion lira. Despite turbulence in the financial markets, Finansbank was able to maintain its strong performance in the second quarter, said the bank’s general manager Sinan Sahinbas. «Finansbank will also maintain its strong growth in the second half of the year,» he said. (Reuters) Sanpaolo in Serbia Italy’s Sanpaolo IMI signed a deal yesterday to buy an 87.39 percent stake in Serbia’s Panonska Banka for 122 million euros, officials told a news conference. Panonska is Serbia’s 12th biggest bank by assets, which stood at 163 million euros at the end of March, with capital at 28.6 million euros. It is among the few remaining Serbian banks where the government owns a controlling stake. The remaining 12.6 percent is held by small shareholders. Sanpaolo was picked as the best bidder earlier this month with rival bids including Greece’s Alpha Bank and the National Bank of Greece. (Reuters) Producer price slowdown Greek producer price inflation decelerated to 7.2 percent in June from an 8.4 percent annual pace in the previous month, data released by the National Statistics Service showed yesterday. (Reuters)