ECONOMY

In Brief

Eurobank names new CEO at Turkish unit Greece’s second-largest lender by market capitalization yesterday named Mehmet Sonmez as the new chief executive of its Turkish subsidiary Eurobank Tekfen as part of a management reshuffle. Sonmez, 49, has worked for Citibank, Osmanli Bankasi and since 2003 was executive vice president at Yapi Kredi, responsible for retail banking. Eurobank ventured into Turkey in 2006, acquiring a majority stake in Tekfenbank, as part of expansion plans to tap growth opportunities in Southeastern Europe. Eurobank, also present in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Poland and Ukraine, said Mehmet Erten, 57, will take over as board chairman at Eurobank Tekfen from Ercan Kumcu, who will stay on as board member. (Reuters) Fourlis buys plot of land in Bulgaria for Ikea store Fourlis, holder of the Ikea franchise in Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria, acquired a plot of land in Bulgaria to build the Balkan country’s first Ikea home furnishings store. The 60,000-square-meter plot is in the Vitosa area of Sofia, Fourlis said in a bourse filing, without specifying how much it paid. Athens-based Fourlis already operates Ikea stores in Greece and Cyprus. (Bloomberg) JAT sale Serbia plans to cut the minimum price in the sale of flag carrier JAT due to high global fuel prices, Deputy Prime Minister Mladjan Dinkic said yesterday. The government initially priced the airline at 150 million euros and said it would sell a 51 percent stake in a tender expected to be called by the end of this month. «We will probably accept our privatization adviser’s recommendation to cut the start price in order to ensure greater competitiveness,» Dinkic was quoted as telling Tanjug news agency. «In other words, we will not convert a JAT debt to the National Bank of Serbia into capital but leave it up to the future buyer to renegotiate and reschedule,» he added. He said the government was aware that the airline industry worldwide is being hit by high fuel prices. «JAT needs investment and we will try to find a strategic partner in a tender and of course there is a reserve plan if we are not satisfied with the outcome of the tender,» Dinkic said. JAT has 209 million euros of debt. Its assets, a two-decade-old fleet of 16 mainly Boeing 737 planes plus real estate, have been officially estimated to be worth $150 million. Local media have reported that Russia’s Aeroflot, considered the most serious potential suitor, is no longer interested. Dinkic said the government had not been formally notified. (Reuters) Gazprom in Turkey Gazprom has proposed setting up a company in Turkey to handle urban gas distribution and a planned extension of the Blue Stream pipeline to Israel, a senior Turkish Energy Ministry source told Reuters yesterday. The proposed company would also build new gas storage facilities in Turkey. Separately Russia, Turkey’s largest natural gas supplier, also wants to renew a contract under which it exports 6 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Turkey, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler told reporters. The contract expires in 2011 and either Turkey’s pipeline company Botas or a private company would be eligible to renew the contract. Guler also said Gazprom is interested in carrying out other energy projects with Turkey, including the expansion of the capacity of the Blue Stream pipeline. (Reuters)