ECONOMY

In Brief

Hellenic Carriers gets loans for ship purchases LONDON (Reuters) -Greek shipping company Hellenic Carriers has secured new loan facilities totaling $310 million to fund an agreed purchase of two cargo ships and future expansion, it said yesterday. The London-listed firm, which provides transportation for dry-bulk cargo ships, has agreed an $190 million loan facility with Piraeus Bank and accepted an offer from National Bank of Greece for a $120 million loan facility. «The Piraeus facility is to be drawn in two advances of $110 million and $80 million respectively and is to be repaid quarterly over eight years,» the company said. National Bank of Greece has offered a credit line of up to $70 million and to refinance Hellenic’s existing debt. Turkish parliament to debate pension bill tomorrow ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Turkey’s parliament will begin discussion of a long-delayed IMF-sought social security bill tomorrow, Labor Minister Faruk Celik was quoted as saying yesterday. Celik said after negotiations with labor leaders on Monday that the government had come to an agreement with unions over portions of the bill, including a figure of 7,200 working days needed for blue-collar workers to reach retirement. But no agreement was reached on raising the retirement age to 65, a key part of the package. The government says the deficit hit 4 percent of gross domestic product in 2007. It says the changes will come into force gradually. Passage of the reform is a condition set by the IMF for approving a $1.3 billion new loan tranche. Bulgaria biodiesel facility Bulgarian company Bulmextrade said yesterday it was building a biodiesel plant with an annual capacity of 86,000 tons and planned to export its output to Central Europe. The plant, at the Danube River town of Rousse, will become operational by July, Bulmextrade Director Georgi Tchapkanov said. He said the company planned to export its fuel to Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania. Bulgaria now has biofuel installations with a capacity of 160,000 tons a year, and plans to increase it to 450,000 tons by 2011, to meet EU targets. (Reuters) Romania rail strike The Romanian government yesterday decided to hike wages of rail workers, averting a nationwide strike planned for early April. Romania’s powerful rail unions had threatened to bring rail traffic to a standstill after the April 2-4 NATO summit in Bucharest. «We obtained a 13 percent salary rise overall this year compared to our demands of an 18 percent rise,» union leader Gheorghe Popa told Reuters. (Reuters) Athens bourse The Athens Exchange was shut yesterday, Greek Independence Day. It reopens today…………………..