ECONOMY

In Brief

OTE – Deutsche Telekom deal could be completed next week The government may finalize a deal to sell part of its holding in OTE telecom to Germany’s Deutsche Telekom by next week, a senior government official said yesterday. «I expect that by next week we will have completed the deal with Deutsche Telekom,» the official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. Greece is in talks to sell part of its stake in OTE to Europe’s largest telecom operator by sales in an effort to make the Greek company more competitive and help it expand its operations in the Balkans. «We are now in tough negotiations for the sale of OTE shares (a 3 percent stake), with the government aiming for a price above 26 euros a share,» the official said. (Reuters) Unemployment drops to 8 percent in January Greece’s unemployment rate fell back to 8.0 percent in January after a sharp rise to 8.9 percent in December, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Unemployment was 8.6 percent in January 2007, the NSS said. Greek unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted. Greece, which had been reporting unemployment data on a quarterly basis, started providing monthly figures last year. «The decline in January unemployment was… helped by rising employment opportunities in the greater Athens region,» said an NSS official who declined to be named. (Reuters) Bulgarian inflation Bulgaria’s annual inflation quickened to 14.2 percent in March from 13.2 percent in February, mainly driven by high food prices, statistics office data showed yesterday. The consumer prices acceleration slowed to 0.8 percent on a monthly basis in March from 1.1 percent in February, the office said in a statement. The IMF sees inflation easing to 7 percent at the end of the year on hopes that grain crops will increase from last year’s drought-hit levels, avoiding renewed food price hikes. High food prices and strong domestic demand drove inflation to 12.5 percent at the end of 2007. (Reuters) Romanian CPI Romania’s annual inflation quickened to 8.6 percent in March from February’s 8 percent, boosted by rises of fuel prices, food, transport and telephony tariffs, the National Statistics Board (INS) said yesterday. Analysts polled by Reuters earlier this month had produced a mid-range headline inflation forecast of 8.5 percent, its highest level in more than two years. Romanian inflation has jumped from a post-communist low of 3.7 percent in March 2007, Romania’s first year in the European Union, on the back of higher global food costs, mounting wages and strong domestic consumption. (Reuters) Istanbul gas sale Istanbul plans to sell off its gas firm Igdas and passenger ferry company IDO after local elections in March 2009, Mayor Kadir Topbas told Reuters. «Right after the local elections Igdas and IDO will be sold so that we can direct the proceeds toward the expansion of the metro system,» he said. The municipality would offer a tender for the metro expansion in the next electoral term, he added. (Reuters)