ECONOMY

In Brief

Social security reform bill said to be low-key The government plans to table a bill on social security reform by the end of February, sources said yesterday after a meeting between new Employment and Social Security Minister Fani Palli-Petralia with the prime minister. «We are proceeding according to plan, prudently and responsibly, because it is the only way to acquire a viable and fair social insurance system,» said Petralia after the meeting. The sources said the reform will be low-key, incorporating only a part of measures put forward by Petralia’s predecessor, Vassilis Magginas, who resigned earlier this month. His proposals for merging media and other «healthy» funds, and the 10 percent retainer from third-party contributions on their account (which Brussels wants to abolish) are now said to look uncertain. Strong emphasis will be given to provisions for women, particularly young mothers, according to the sources. Producer prices up 8.1 percent y/y, retail sales rise 1.3 pct Greek producer price inflation accelerated to an annual 8.1 percent pace in November, mainly due to high energy prices, data from the National Statistics Service showed yesterday. «The increase is almost exclusively due to higher energy prices. We have a rise in PPI for the last quarter of the year, in line with expectations. This is expected to remain at high levels at the start of 2008.» Retail sales by volume rose 1.3 percent year-on-year in October, picking up from a 0.5 percent annual rise in September. Retail sales by revenues grew 4.2 percent year-on-year in October after a 4.1 percent rise in the previous month. (Reuters) Chocolate IPO Turkey’s Yildiz Holding, which is buying premium chocolate maker Godiva Chocolatier, plans to hold an initial public offering for its own chocolatier Ulker Cikolata in the first half of 2008, its chief executive said. He also said Yildiz, which owns Turkey’s largest food company Ulker, would invest «tens of millions of dollars» in Godiva, which it agreed to buy for $850 million from the United States-based Campbell Soup last week. Ulker has a 71 percent share of the Turkish chocolate market. Nestle and local Eti follow with 15 percent and 4 percent shares respectively. (Reuters) Petkim Shares in Turkish petrochemical producer Petkim fell 5.4 percent yesterday after a court suspended the $2.0 billion sale of a majority stake in the company auctioned off earlier this year. The shares fell as trading resumed yesterday after they were suspended late Thursday following the decision by Turkey’s top administrative court. A consortium comprising Turcas, Azeri energy firm Socar and Saudi-based Injaz Projects was due to take a controlling 51 percent stake in Petkim in January, for which it bid $2.04 billion in July. (Reuters) Bulgaria’s foreign debt Bulgaria’s gross foreign debt rose by 31.5 percent on an annual basis to 25.5 billion euros ($36.99 billion) at the end of October due to strong private borrowing, central bank data showed. That took the external debt of Bulgaria to 95.6 percent of gross domestic product, up from 77.4 percent a year earlier. Private foreign debt grew 44.9 percent to 21.6 billion euros on an annual basis. (Reuters)