ECONOMY

In Brief

National Bank of Greece lifts Finansbank stake to 80.4 pct Greece’s largest lender, National Bank (NBG), said it had increased its stake in Turkey’s Finansbank to 80.4 percent by buying more shares from minority shareholders. NBG, which acquired 46 percent of the Turkish lender last year, purchased an additional 34.4 percent between January 8 and 9, the first days of its tender to buy out minorities, the Greek bank said yesterday in a bourse filing. Last week, Turkey’s market watchdog said NBG must raise its offer for the acquisition of minority shares to $4.14 from $4.04 for every 10 shares held. The regulatory body asked for the increase due to accounting differences on valuations for the Turkish company. Eyeing growth opportunities in Turkey, NBG clinched a deal last April to buy the 46 percent in Finansbank for 2.13 billion euros from the Ozyegin family. NBG had tapped the stock market for 3 billion euros via a four-for-10 rights issue at 22.1 euros a share to finance the acquisition. (Reuters) Turkey vows to continue sell-offs despite grid move ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey will press ahead with other planned privatizations in 2007 despite a decision to postpone the sell-off of three electricity grids, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener said yesterday. «Our determination with regard to privatizations in 2007 continues. The decision regarding the tenders on energy distribution should not be a cause for doubt over privatizations,» Sener told reporters. Earlier, Turkey’s energy minister said the planned selloff of the power grids would be postponed until after a general election expected in November. Building permits Construction activity in Greece, measured by the number of new building permits, dropped 12.8 percent year-on-year in October, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. The NSS said 6,684 new permits were issued nationwide in October, corresponding to 6.855 million cubic meters, a decline of 13.8 percent from the year earlier figure. A total of 68,075 new permits were issued around the country in the January-to-October period, down 2.3 percent from the same period a year ago, amounting to 69.757 million cubic meters, the NSS said. (Reuters) Renault-Turkey French carmaker Renault will produce the new version of its Clio model in Turkey from end-2007, the head of the company’s Euromed region, Luc-Alexandre Menard, said yesterday. Menard was speaking at a news conference of the company’s Turkish unit Oyak-Renault, set to make investments of 183 million euros in 2007. (Reuters) Cyprus inflation Cyprus’s EU-harmonized inflation (HICP) ran at 1.5 percent year on year in December, compared to 1.3 percent in November, the statistics department said yesterday. For the whole of 2006, HICP ran at 2.2 percent, compared to 2 percent in 2005. (Reuters) Aluminium tariff cuts The European Commission approved yesterday a proposal to halve import duties on wrought aluminium to 3 percent from January 1 and cut them to zero from January 1, 2009, an EU official said. (Reuters)