In Brief

Turks say Alpha bid legally lacking ANKARA (AFP) -Turkey’s banking watchdog said it has blocked the sale of a 50 percent stake in Alternatifbank to Greece’s Alpha Bank on the grounds that the Greek bank did not meet legal requirements. «Our agency has not authorized the transfer of shares in light of the fact that Alpha Bank does not meet all of the requirements listed in Article 8 of the banking law,» the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) said in a statement received yesterday. The said article lists the qualifications required to found a bank. BDDK did not specify which of the conditions Alpha Bank had failed to meet. Last year, Alpha Bank said that it had reached an agreement with Turkish group Anadolu to acquire a 50 percent stake in Alternatifbank, in which the group is the principal shareholder. The deal envisaged the two parties establishing a holding company that would turn the midsized Alternatifbank into a leading lending establishment. Alpha and Anadolu would have had equal weight on the company’s board of directors. Lufthansa unit agrees to deal to repair planes in Bulgaria SOFIA (Reuters) – Deutsche Lufthansa’s aircraft maintenance division – Lufthansa Technik – will establish a joint venture with Bulgarian air firm Hemus Air to repair planes in Bulgaria, Hemus Air said yesterday. The 20-million-euro deal to set up a joint firm for the repair of Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 planes will be signed on August 16. Lufthansa Technik will hold 80 percent of the venture. «We hope the repairs to start around the end of 2008,» Dimitar Pavlov, executive director of Hemus Air, told Reuters. He also said the project could be extended to include upgrading larger planes, such as the Boeing 777 and Airbus A340. The repairs will be made at Sofia international airport and up to 22 planes will be upgraded a year. Pavlov said the company was currently in talks with Boeing, Airbus, Brazilian jet-maker Embraer, Canada’s Bombardier, and ATR, a joint venture between EADS and Italian group Finmeccanica, for lease-purchasing new planes. Lira down The Turkish lira fell as much as 2.9 percent to 1.2950 against the dollar, after an official interbank close yesterday of 1.2800. It closed Wednesday at 1.2575. The lira had firmed as far as 1.2500 before news that BNP Paribas was suspending three of its funds because of problems in the higher risk mortgage market, which hit markets globally. «It’s the European stocks, and draining of liquidity on European markets (that is hurting the lira) and concerns over a few major names,» said JP Morgan Chase’s Yarkin Cebeci. (Reuters) Sunflower seed drop Romania expects its sunflower seed crop to fall sharply to around 520,000 tons this year from 1.6 million tons in 2006 due to prolonged drought, Agriculture Ministry data showed yesterday. Heat and water shortages are also forecast to hit crops in Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece and Italy, which together with the Black Sea state account for about 60 percent of the bloc’s sunflower seed planted area, Hamburg-based analyst Oil World has said. «It has been a very bad year.» Romania put 1 million hectares under sunflower in 2006. (Reuters)