ECONOMY

In Brief

National Bank profit seen up 5 pct Greece’s largest lender, National Bank, is expected to report a 5-percent rise in first-half net profit, as lower trading income and higher funding costs offset still-strong loan growth. Net profit is expected to rise to 808.6 million euros from 770 million a year earlier, according to the average forecast of analysts polled by Reuters whose estimates ranged from 783 million to 825 million euros. Net interest income at NBG is expected to rise by 20 percent to 1.728 billion euros, slower than a year earlier. Trading income is seen down at about 50-55 million euros from 172 million in the first half last year. «The main reason for the small rise in net profit is weaker trading income due to widened spreads on bonds and the drop in share prices globally,» said analyst Nikos Lianeris at Proton Bank. NBG has the largest bond portfolio among Greek banks. «We also expect lower fee income and some light pressure on deposit spreads,» he said. Analysts said if a one-off capital gain of 108 million euros from the sale of NBG’s participation in cement maker Heracles is included in first-half 2007 profit, then first-half 2008 earnings will be down 8.0 percent. Greek banks have started to feel the pinch of higher funding costs. Concerns on the economic outlook of southeast Europe, where they have expanded to gain market share, have pressured their shares this year. (Reuters) OTE earnings likely to rise 16 pct OTE, Greece’s largest telecoms company, partly owned by Deutsche Telekom, is expected to post a 16 percent rise in second-quarter profit on increased ADSL connections and mobile take-up. The average net profit forecast of six analysts polled by Reuters was 158 million euros ($233.3 million), up from 136 million in the same year-ago period. Higher revenues from Internet services and OTE’s mobile unit Cosmote are expected to offset a loss in fixed-line telephony. OTE has steadily lost clients to smaller operators since Greece opened up its market in 2001, which has weighed on the group’s earnings. «We see further pressures in voice revenues and monthly rentals. DSL should have remained strong,» Proton Securities said in a note to investors. «For Cosmote, we expect the Greek and Romanian segments to continue leading with 210,000 and 420,000 net additions, respectively.» Earlier this year OTE completed a buy-out of Cosmote for about 2.8 billion euros as part of its plans to take full advantage of mobile telephony growth in the region. OTE is present in Bulgaria, Romania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania. Analysts forecast second-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 572 million euros, up 5 percent. Sales are seen up 2.4 percent at 1.59 billion euros in the quarter, helped by Cosmote’s strong performance in the Balkans. Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, which generates more than half of its revenue abroad, agreed earlier this year to buy a 25 percent stake in OTE as part of its strategy to boost its mobile acquisitions. (Reuters) Public offer Turkey’s Capital Markets Board said National Bank of Greece must apply within 15 days to make a new call offer to buy out minority shareholders in Turkish leasing company Finans Finansal Kiralama AS. National Bank must set a new price for the offer within that period, the Ankara-based board said on its website yesterday. (Bloomberg)