ECONOMY

In Brief

Greek and Cypriot exchanges express interest in Bulgarian bourse NICOSIA (Reuters) – The stock exchanges of Athens and Cyprus have expressed an interest in buying a stake in the Bulgarian stock exchange, should the government decide to dispose of its holding, the chairman of the Cyprus bourse said yesterday. «We have informed the Bulgarian stock exchange that if the government decides to dispose of its 44 percent share, the two bourses would look positively at the prospect of a participation,» Cyprus bourse Chairman Akis Kleanthous said. Last year, Bulgaria said it was seeking a strategic investor for its controlling stake in the country’s bourse as part of plans to increase liquidity. The Bulgarian stock exchange has held initial acquisition talks with Deutsche Boerse and with the Nordic and Baltic bourse operator OMX. The exchanges in Milan, Vienna and Warsaw have also expressed interest. Kleanthous said the Cyprus exchange and Hellenic Exchanges, operator of the Athens Stock Exchange, had sent a letter to Bulgarian bourse authorities on Monday. The two bourses are also keen that Sofia participate in a joint trading platform launched between Athens and Nicosia late last year, Kleanthous said. Intralot launches video lottery games in Serbia Intralot, the world’s second-largest lottery systems supplier, said yesterday it had launched video lottery games in Serbia. Intralot, which is also the world’s largest sports betting operator, said its Serbian subsidiary Yugobet launched video-lotto games, which operate like slot machines, at more than 30 points of sale in all major urban areas in the country. «We believe that this new project in Serbia will contribute significantly to the improvement of the financial position of our subsidiaries in Serbia,» Intralot Chief Executive Constantinos Antonopoulos said in a statement. Intralot estimates the video-based lotto market at about 77 million euros annually in Serbia. (Reuters) Aldi in Greece Europe’s biggest discount grocery retail chain, Aldi, is planning to invest about 700 million euros in Greece to create a network of 350 stores, its officials stated in the Austrian press. The German firm owns more than 6,600 stores in Europe and its 2005 turnover came to 32.3 billion euros. It is not clear yet whether it will develop in Greece under the name Aldi or opt for its other brand name, Hofer. With Aldi entering the Greek market, all major players in discount food retailing will have a presence in this country after the penetration of Dia, Lidl and Plus. They total 550 stores and more than 800 million euros in turnover. Romanian growth International Monetary Fund sees the Romanian economy growing by 6.5 percent this year versus an estimated rate of expansion of more than 7.5 percent in 2006, the lender’s representative to Romania and Bulgaria, Juan Jose Fernandez-Ansola, said yesterday. «The economy is growing very fast,» he stated. He also forecast that the country’s current account deficit would grow to 12 percent of gross domestic product in 2007 from 10 percent last year, calling this «a significant widening.» Fernandez-Ansola was speaking ahead of an annual IMF meeting to take place in Bucharest between February 21 and March 7. (Reuters)