ECONOMY

In Brief

ING signs 10-year deal with Piraeus Bank AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch financial services group ING Groep NV said yesterday it has signed a 10-year agreement with Greece’s Piraeus Bank, giving it a distribution agreement covering life insurance, pensions and banking services. ING and Piraeus Bank, which said in July that they planned to form a partnership, said that the deal gives ING exclusive access to Piraeus’s 305 branches in Greece for the distribution of life insurance and pension products. ING is also buying ING Piraeus Life, the joint venture between ING and Piraeus Bank. ING will also promote Piraeus’s banking products in Greece. Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed. EU to decide by December on Bulgaria, Romania farm aid BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is expected to decide whether to cut farm aid to newcomers Bulgaria and Romania before December 1, the bloc’s executive said yesterday. Under the terms of the two Balkan countries’ entry treaty, the EU may decide during the first two years of their EU membership to cut its generous farm aid by 25 percent if their payment agencies and farm databases are deemed inefficient. «The decision is to be taken by December 1… Before that the European Commission will make its recommendation,» said Commission spokesman Mark Grey. Bulgaria and Romania are to receive several billion euros from Brussels in funds for direct subsidies for farmers and rural development through the 2007-2013 budget period. Marfin buys in Estonia Marfin Investment Group (MIG) said yesterday it had completed the acquisition of a 50.1 percent stake in Estonian SBM Bank. In a stock market filing, Marfin said the stake was transferred to its Marfin Popular Bank unit after the approval of Cyprus and Estonian authorities. In June, MIG said it would buy the stake in SBM Bank for about 6.5 million euros and that the move was part of its plans to enter the fast-growing Baltic countries. (Reuters) Ankara gas grid A tender for the sale of the Turkish capital’s natural gas distribution grid, expected to be held in the next two weeks, has attracted wide interest from companies, a Turkish official said yesterday. The official, from the Ankara gas company Baskent Dogalgaz, said interested firms included German RWE, Gaz de France, Russia’s Gazprom, and Turkish companies Sabanci Group, Zorlu, Aksa and Energaz. The official said interested companies planned to import gas from countries including Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. (Reuters) Turk oil refinery The Turkish Cevahir Group has applied to build an oil refinery with an annual refining capacity of 10 million tons in southern Turkey, an official from the country’s energy watchdog agency told Reuters yesterday. It also plans to build a chemical plant at the same location in Yumurtalik and together the plants would be worth $6 billion in investment, the offical said. Yumurtalik is the terminal of a pipeline extending northward from Iraqi oil fields. (Reuters)