In Brief

Cyprus seen as keeping rates on hold at 4.5 pct NICOSIA (Reuters) – Eurozone hopeful Cyprus is likely to keep its key interest rate unchanged at 4.50 percent during a review today, preferring to hold its firepower and a present premium over EU rates, which look set to rise further this year, say analysts. Cyprus needs to align its rates to those of the European Central Bank by January 1, 2008, its target date for adopting the euro. But with euro rates likely to climb further, it may wait for the ECB to play catch up, rather than act the other way around. Cyprus has not adjusted its rates since September 2006, when it jacked up the refinancing rate 125 basis points, establishing it as its benchmark rate to replace the Lombard rate. The bank follows a typically conservative policy on rates and was not expected to surprise the market, economist Stelios Platis said. «It might be used as a marketing tool too, to show the public the benefits of the euro,» said Platis. Polls suggest about half of Cypriots are against switching currencies. Turkey, IMF agree on state companies’ finances ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The Turkish Treasury said yesterday it had reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the medium-term financing of state companies after completing technical work on the subject. It said in a statement that savings of up to 0.2 percent of gross national product in budget and state companies’ spending was anticipated under the deal. It also said the IMF board was expected to meet in May to discuss the sixth review of the country’s $10 billion loan accord. Marfin Popular Marfin Popular Bank (MPB) said yesterday it had hired Matteo Stefanel to head its investment banking and further acquisitions by the group. Stefanel was previously managing director at Deutsche Bank, responsible for the group’s activities in Italy, Greece and Southeast Europe. He has previously worked for Wasserstein Perella, CSFB and Citigroup. MPB, which earlier this year bought an 8 percent stake in rival Bank of Cyprus from Piraeus Bank, bought small Ukrainian lender Marine Transport Bank for $137.4 million in March. (Reuters) Transgaz deal Romania’s gas pipeline operator Transgaz yesterday said it will offer a 10 percent stake in an initial public offering to be run by Raiffeisen Capital &Investment SA Bucharest. Romania, whose total stock market capitalization stands at around 24 billion euros, a fraction of the size of more advanced Eastern European markets, is attractive to investors hoping to capitalize on benefits from the country’s EU entry this year. State-owned Transgaz said in a statement the financial services contract with Raiffeisen was signed yesterday, but did not elaborate when the IPO was scheduled. (Reuters) Turkish jewelry exports Turkey’s gold jewelry exports rose 13.2 percent year-on-year to 22.2 tons in the first quarter this year, exporters’ data showed yesterday. Exports in March firmed by 8.6 percent year-on-year to 8.4 tons, equivalent to $103.3 million. (Reuters)

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