In Brief

ATEbank Q2 profit seen declining by half Agricultural Bank of Greece SA may report second-quarter profit fell as weaker trading and lending income hurt revenue at the sixth-largest Greek bank. Net income at the institution known as ATEbank probably declined more than half to 27 million euros ($40.3 million) in the three months ending June from 58.4 million euros a year earlier, according to the median estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Lending income probably will be close to 152.7 million euros of a year earlier while fee income dropped and the bank had trading losses, the survey showed. Revenue declined 18 percent to 196.8 million euros, according to the analysts surveyed. Heightened competition in the Greek market is pressuring profit at ATEbank, founded in 1929 by the Greek government to develop the country’s agricultural sector. The lender is scheduled to report earnings on Aug. 22. (Bloomberg) Budget deficit widens by more than a third Greece’s budget deficit widened by more than a third in the first half of the year as the government increased spending on wages and received less money from taxes on heating oil. The central government shortfall, which excludes the finances of the state pension system and local administrations, increased 35 percent to 8.6 billion euros ($12.8 billion) from 6.4 billion euros a year earlier, the Athens-based Finance Ministry said in a statement on its web site yesterday. (Bloomberg) Izmit privatization Gaz de France submitted the highest bid of $232 million in a tender for the privatization of the Izmit gas distribution company (Izgaz). Under the tender, the whole of the gas distribution firm in northwestern Turkey will be sold off in a block sale. In the open auction session broadcast live by CNBC-e, local Zorlu Enerji withdrew from the tender. The energy regulator EPDK and the competition board have to approve the tender before the distribution network is taken over by the private sector. Izgaz has a $317 million debt, and the winning bidder will also take on that debt. Gaz de France is one of a few foreign firms that have competed in Turkey’s privatization tenders this year, stalling somewhat due to a global credit crunch and domestic political uncertainties. (Reuters) Deficit widens Romania’s current account deficit widened by 8.5 percent year-on-year to 7.981 billion euros ($11.95 billion) in the first half of the year, the central bank said yesterday. A year earlier, the deficit had expanded by roughly 96 percent on an annual basis in January-June, after Romania’s European Union accession removed customs taxes with member states and boosted imports. It reached a cumulative 16.9 billion euros at the end of 2007, or around 14 percent of gross domestic product. Economists have warned that the external shortfall makes Romania particularly vulnerable to any big outflows of foreign money as the global credit crunch has made investors increasingly averse to riskier markets. But export growth has picked up since the start of the year, while import growth slowed due to a weaker leu currency. However, some analysts say the trend is likely to reverse in the second part of the year, fuelled by persistent domestic demand and a slowdown in eurozone economic growth. (Reuters)