ECONOMY

In Brief

National Bank Q3 profit seen off 13 pct on slowdown National Bank of Greece, Greece’s largest lender, is expected to report a 13 percent fall in third-quarter net profit due to weak trading income and a slowdown in lending. Based on the average forecast in a Reuters poll of eight analysts, the group is expected to post net profit of 379.6 million euros, down from 434.8 million euros in the third quarter last year. Estimates ranged from 372.1 million euros to 390 million euros. «Lower net income is mainly due to weaker trading and other income due to adverse market conditions,» Constantinos Manolopoulos, analyst at Marfin Analysis, told Reuters. Analysts expect a continued slowdown in lending growth at Greek banks will hurt bottom lines further in the final quarter as the global credit crunch and weaker economic growth start to bite. Shares in Greek banks have been under pressure due to funding concerns and worries over the economic outlook in the Balkans, where they have expanded. Although Greek lenders lack exposure to sub-prime loans and have not been hit by writedowns, the sector has shed about 71 percent this year, swamped by the turmoil in financial markets. National Bank operates in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Albania. It acquired Turkey’s Finansbank in 2006 as part of its expansion strategy in southeast Europe. (Reuters) Aegean Marine has big aspirations for 2009 Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc., the Piraeus, Greece-based supplier of fuel for ships, has «enormous aspirations» for sales growth in 2009 and plans to accept 22 new vessels in the next two years. «We will be busier than most people expect,» Aegean President E. Nikolas Tavlarios said in an interview from New York. «We cannot get these vessels fast enough. There’s plenty of demand out there and we need to deploy these ships.» The credit crisis has forced competitors to reconsider contracts to buy vessels. Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd. canceled an agreement to buy $530 million worth of ships, it said in a statement earlier this month. Aegean is continuing with the purchase of double-hulled ships, which are less likely to spill fuel than single-hulled vessels, Tavlarios said. An indication of increased demand came in October when the company loaded 547,000 metric tons of fuel in October, almost 20 percent above the monthly average in the third quarter, he said. Aegean got more business because of regulations requiring the use of double-hulled ships and the effect of the credit crisis on smaller undercapitalized competitors, he added. (Bloomberg) Pipeline operating Iraq expects the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline linking Iraq and Turkey to be reopened in a week, the country’s Oil Ministry spokesman said on Saturday, after it was damaged in a bomb attack a day earlier. «It will definitely take more than 48 hours to fix, but no longer than a week,» he said, adding that the estimation was based on previous experience with damaged pipelines in Iraq and not from reports on the attack in Turkey. Baghdad also expects loading of oil shipments at Ceyhan to be unaffected despite a halt in pumping from Iraq, spokesman Asim Jihad said. (Reuters)