In Brief

National Bank sees 2008 as good year for Greek banks Greece’s largest lender National Bank said yesterday it saw 2008 as another good year for Greek banks, which will be affected less by the credit crunch and subprime crisis than their foreign peers. «We will go through this crisis affected much less than other bigger banks which have more intricate portfolios and a lack of exposure in fast-growing markets,» Chief Executive Takis Aropoglou told a luncheon. Greek banks have seen profits rise in recent years and have been branching out into Southeastern Europe in a bid to tap fast-growing markets before a boom in retail lending at home slows. In 2006, National Bank was the first Greek lender to venture into Turkey, buying Finansbank which contributed 349 million euros or 26.6 percent of National’s group nine-month profit of 1.31 billion euros. (Reuters) Buyout giant MIG raises OTE stake to 19 percent Marfin Investment Group, the biggest buyout fund in Southeast Europe, increased its stake in OTE telecom to just under a cap set by the Greek government. The fund had a 19.05 percent stake in Greece’s biggest phone company as of January 7, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday. MIG has acquired 25.6 million shares and also has voting rights over another 67.8 million shares, the filing shows. Marfin, whose biggest shareholder is the government of Dubai, said on December 7 it had an 18.5 percent stake in OTE. The announcement was made hours before the government submitted a law requiring investors to receive approval to hold more than 20 percent of «strategic» companies, which include OTE. (Bloomberg) Cyprus trade deficit Cyprus’s January to November trade deficit widened to 2.8 billion Cyprus pounds ($6.9 billion) from 2.4 billion pounds a year ago, the statistics department said yesterday. Exports fell to 588.2 million pounds from 597.7 million pounds in the same period in 2006, while imports increased to 3.4 billion Cyprus pounds from 3.0 billion in the year-ago period. According to revised figures for January to October, the trade deficit widened to 2.5 billion Cyprus pounds from 2.1 billion the year earlier. (Reuters) Vestel Turkish electronics and white-goods maker Vestel aims to boost its sales to $4 billion in 2008, newspaper Aksam reported yesterday. A company official was quoted as saying that Vestel aims to raise its exports to $3 billion in 2008 from $2.6 billion in 2007. He also said Vestel would open two television factories abroad including one in Kazakhstan. Vestel came second after Korea’s Samsung with 3.2 million LCD TVs sold in Europe in 2007, he said. (Reuters) PepsiCo buys Bulgarian PepsiCo Inc said it has agreed to buy Bulgaria’s Penelopa, which sells peanuts, sunflower seeds and other snacks, for an undisclosed amount. PepsiCo currently sells its Lay’s, Ruffles, Cheetos and Doritos snacks in Bulgaria. (Reuters)