ECONOMY

In Brief

ATEbank denies making agreement on Groupama Agricultural Bank of Greece SA, the state-controlled lender known as ATEbank, said it hasn’t reached any preliminary agreement with Groupama SA for the sale of a stake in its insurance unit. «It is false that ATEbank has reached any sort of agreement on the price or any other subject concerning the share deal with Groupama,» the company said in a statement to the Athens Exchange. The Naftemporiki newspaper said earlier that ATEbank had made a preliminary agreement to sell a 50.1 percent stake in its insurance unit to Groupama for more than 100 million euros ($127.9 million). Groupama, France’s biggest customer-owned insurance unit, won a bidding contest for a majority stake in ATEbank’s insurance unit earlier in October. Ergo Insurance Group had also submitted a binding bid for the stake. (Bloomberg) Turkey in talks with IMF over possible accord Turkey and the International Monetary Fund are discussing the details of a possible new accord that would provide loans in emergencies, Economy Minister Mehmet Simsek said yesterday. Turkey does «not currently feel the need for a new accord that would involve the use of new funds from the IMF,» Simsek said in a statement issued in Ankara through his press office. «However, technical discussion and work continues with the delegation that’s in Turkey on a precautionary standby agreement. I do not know when these talks will conclude.» (Bloomberg) Bulgarian debt Bulgaria’s gross foreign debt grew 31.3 percent to 33.6 billion euros ($43.19 billion) at the end of August from a year ago as commercial banks’ borrowing more than doubled, central bank data showed yesterday. The external debt at the end of August edged up by 2.8 percent from end-July and was equal to 98.8 percent of annual gross domestic product, the preliminary data showed. Rating agencies and economists have warned that Bulgaria’s huge external debt and ballooning current account deficit make the country vulnerable as the foreign cash flows it depends on would likely fall as a result of the global credit crunch. Private foreign debt grew to 29.6 billion euros at the end of August from 21.4 billion a year earlier, as commercial banks drew financial resources from abroad to finance strong economic growth and rampant consumption in the European Union newcomer. (Reuters) Serbian investment Ball Corporation, a US provider of metal and plastic packaging for food and beverages, will invest 25 million euros ($32 million) in Serbia and employ 100 workers, the country’s government said in a statement yesterday. A new production facility to be built in the capital, Belgrade, will be used to produce tin cans and lids, Ball’s Chief Executive Officer R. David Hoover said in the statement posted on the government’s official website. At a meeting with Hoover, Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and Economy Minister Mladjan Dinkic said the project will boost Serbia’s exports and that the government will «do its utmost» to improve the environment for future investments, the statement said. (Bloomberg)