In Brief

EU urges Nicosia to make health and pension reforms NICOSIA (Reuters) – The European Commission has urged Cyprus to make reforms to its healthcare and pension systems, citing the pressure of an aging population on public finances. In an assessment of Cyprus’s Stability Program, a report detailing economic planning from 2007 to 2011, the European Commission said the island should better control expenditure and use revenue windfalls to further reduce debt. The assessment said the lack of restraint in primary current expenditure, and the temporary effect of increases in tax revenues highlighted the need for better expenditure control. «Maintaining high primary surpluses and adopting pension reform measures aimed at containing the significant increase in age-related expenditures… could contribute to reducing risks to the sustainability of public finances.» Turkey’s December c/a deficit sharply above forecast ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s current account deficit rose 71.7 percent year-on-year to $5.149 billion in December, central bank data showed yesterday, sharply higher than economists had forecast. In the year as a whole the current account deficit was $37.996 billion, jumping from $32.193 billion a year earlier. In a Reuters poll, the December deficit had been forecast to be $4.4 billion, and the full-year deficit prediction was $37.15 billion. The balance of payments data showed the foreign trade deficit jumped 58.6 percent year-on-year to $4.909 billion, while the services surplus narrowed 58.6 percent to $193 million. Cypriot growth Cyprus’s gross domestic product expanded 4.3 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2007, down from 4.7 percent in the third quarter, the statistics department said in a flash estimate yesterday. Growth for the whole year was estimated at 4.4 percent, unchanged from a preliminary estimate issued by the statistics office on December 31. (Reuters) Quintana Quintana Maritime Ltd, the Greek shipper of commodities such as coal and grain that is being acquired for $2.45 billion, said fourth-quarter profit fell on higher financing costs and legal fees. Net income declined to $4.2 million, or 7 cents a share, from $10.8 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier, the Glyfada-based company said in a statement yesterday. Sales rose 75 percent to $64.9 million from $37 million. (Bloomberg) Koc sells Migros Turkey’s Koc Holding has agreed to sell its 50.8 percent stake in retailer Migros to BC Partners for 1.98 billion lira ($1.7 billion), in the country’s largest private equity deal. Shares in Migros, Turkey’s largest supermarket chain, fell 3 percent yesterday as investors were disappointed with the sale price, which values the whole company at 3.89 billion lira. BC said it would launch a tender offer for the remaining shares (Reuters)