ECONOMY

In Brief

Piraeus Bank completes 1.25-bln-euro issue Piraeus Bank yesterday said it had completed a 1.25-billion-euro issue of bonds by securitization of part of its residential mortgage portfolio. The securitization was the lender’s second after a similar one in 2005 and was aimed at diversifying Piraeus’s funding sources, the bank said in a statement. S&P, Moody’s and Fitch provided rating for the bonds, with about 1.14 billion euros of the bonds receiving a AAA rating, while the issue was oversubscribed 1.5 times with the order book reaching 1.8 billion euros, it said. UBS Investment Bank, Barclays Capital and DZ Bank AG managed the sale. Piraeus is present in Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Egypt, Albania, the US and Ukraine. Based on its recent business plan, it wants to expand its overall network to 900 branches by 2010. The group’s network outside Greece should expand to 580 branches from 243 currently. (Reuters) Cyprus bourse suspends Laiki Invest, CLR on report NICOSIA (Reuters) – The Cyprus Stock Exchange yesterday suspended trading in the shares of CLR Capital and Laiki Investment after newspaper reports of a possible merger. Laiki Investment is a subsidiary of Marfin Popular Bank. Shares in both companies were set to remain suspended today unless there were clarifications from the firms concerned, the CSE said. The daily Politis newspaper said CLR and Laiki Investment had almost completed merger acquisition talks. It would, the newspaper said, create one of the largest investment companies in Cyprus with a capitalization of 100 million Cyprus pounds ($238 million). A spokesman for Marfin Popular Bank in Nicosia declined any immediate comment. Turk markets ease Turkish markets lost ground yesterday as investors avoided taking new positions ahead of a general election this weekend and lingering fears related to US sub-prime mortgage loans. The lira edged down slightly to 1.2775 against the dollar from the previous day’s 1.2730 on the interbank market. The main stock index fell 0.25 percent to close at 51,643.83 points, down from Friday’s all-time high of 52,086. The secondary bond market was also slightly weaker on Monday, with the yield on the May 6, 2009, benchmark bond at 17.83 percent up from 17.69 percent. «Expectations for the post-election period are very positive. We can test 17.60 percent at benchmark bond yield toward the end of this week and can fall further later, depending on election results,» said one banker. (Reuters) Bosnia record forex Bosnia’s foreign currency reserves have hit a record 6 billion Bosnian marka ($4.25 billion), the country’s central bank said yesterday. «This is the highest level ever recorded,» the bank said in a statement. The reserves went up by 700 million marka since the beginning of the year due to increased tourist traffic, visits and spending by Bosnians living abroad, as well inflows from from the privatization of large companies, the bank said. (Reuters)