ECONOMY

In Brief

Vienna bourse eyes holdings in East European peers LJUBLJANA (Reuters) – The Vienna bourse is eyeing stock exchanges in Eastern Europe in the hope of buying majority or minority stakes when they go on sale, Chief Executive Heinrich Schaller told Reuters yesterday. «(We are watching) Eastern Europe, including the Balkans,» Schaller said. The Vienna bourse is one of the two remaining bidders for 81 percent of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, which is likely to be sold by the end of June. Hellenic Exchanges from Athens is the other bidder. Schaller declined to say how much the bourse would offer for the sole exchange in fellow eurozone member Slovenia, but said it would bid alone, not in partnership with Austrian banks, as it did in the case of the Budapest bourse. He said the Vienna bourse would also be interested in buying a share in the Warsaw bourse, which the government is planning to partly privatize this year. Hellenic Postbank says NBG now owns 6.07 pct Hellenic Post Bank (TT) said yesterday National Bank, Greece’s largest lender, now held 6.07 percent of TT, 5.73 percent of it directly and another 0.34 percent indirectly. NBG said on Monday it had bought 7.34 million shares in the deposit-rich TT, a 5.16 percent stake, at 13.25 euros each. Last month another big Greek bank, EFG Eurobank, raised its stake in TT to 5.7 percent, sparking talk of positioning in view of further consolidation in the Greek banking sector. TT is seen as an acquisition target, given its attractive franchise – a network of 136 branches, a loans-to-deposits ratio of about 54 percent and about 2.8 million retail accounts. (Reuters) IMF on Romania A smaller government budget shortfall target of 1.75 percent of gross domestic product would have been more appropriate for Romania, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday. Romania targets a deficit of 2.3 percent of GDP this year. «The mission believes that a lower deficit target of about 1.75 percent of GDP, while falling short of first-best policy, would have been more appropriate,» the IMF said in a statement following annual consultations with Romania. (Reuters) Fund on Turkey Ankara expects the International Monetary Fund to approve Turkey’s loan review early next month, Treasury Undersecretary Ibrahim Canakci said yesterday. He told reporters he expected the executive board to meet at the start of May and to complete the review, which would open the way for a loan tranche of around $3.7 billion to be released. Turkey’s $10 billion program expires in May. (Reuters) ATHEX indices Athens stock market officials and FTSE indices company’s president, Mark Makepeace, yesterday approved changes in the Athens Exchange’s FTSE mid-cap and small-cap indices as of June 2. Terna Energy, AB Vassilopoulos and Sfakianakis will replace Iaso, Blue Star and Maillis on the FTSE/ATHEX Mid 40 index.