In Brief

Titan seen posting 8.5 pct drop in Q2 profit Titan Cement, Greece’s biggest cement maker, is forecast to say second-quarter profit declined 8.5 percent as the housing slump in the US and a construction slowdown in its home market curbed demand. Net income probably dropped to 67.5 million euros ($105.9 million) from 73.8 million euros a year earlier, based on the median estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Sales at Athens-based Titan were little changed at 417.3 million euros, according to the survey. The US housing slowdown continues to crimp demand for building materials in Titan’s second-biggest market, while a decline in private building in Greece, Titan’s largest market, also likely affected earnings. Higher energy costs will also dampen profit. The cement maker acquired a stake in a Turkish company this year and increased its holding in an Egyptian unit in May to boost earnings from emerging markets. (Bloomberg) Turkish builders bid for land in central Istanbul A group of four Turkish building companies led by Ascioglu Insaat won an auction for land in central Istanbul with the highest bid of 415.8 million liras ($345 million). The bidding group, which also includes Ofton Insaat, Meydanbey Insaat and Omak Insaat, beat a construction unit of Turkish grocer Kiler AS to win yesterday’s auction for the 23,711-square meter site in the Mecidiyekoy district of the city. The bidding group offered to share 50 percent of an 831.5-million-lira profit it hopes to make from the land with Turkey’s housing authority, Vedat Demiroz, an authority executive, told reporters. It is the third time the housing authority has tried to sell the land. (Bloomberg) Pension strain The Serbian government’s pledges to raise pension payments by 10 percent this year will burden the budget and force the cabinet to seek savings elsewhere, said Vladimir Ilic, the Economy Ministry’s state secretary. The government, which took office on July 7, wants retirement benefits to eventually account for 70 percent of wage earners’ pre-retirement salaries. Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said monthly budget spending will rise 3 billion dinars ($607 mln) from the higher payments. «A vast part of pensions is covered by the budget and every new burden of the budget requires a cut in spending» in other areas, Ilic said in a telephone interview yesterday. «That should not be allowed. Pensions must go up as they are really low, but the country must set some priorities first.» The cabinet aims to end 2008 with a budget gap of 0.5 of gross domestic product and cut the 2008 current-account deficit to 8 percent of GDP. (Bloomberg) Romanian deal Macon Deva, a Romanian construction materials producer, bought a majority stake in competitor Simcor Group for 53 million euros ($83 million), making it the country’s biggest company in its field. Enterprise Investors, a Warsaw-based group of investors and majority owner of Macon, provided 26 million euros of capital for Macon to buy Simcor Group, the Polish group said yesterday. (Bloomberg)