In Brief

Piraeus Bank to take part in gov’t bank plan Piraeus Bank, Greece’s fourth-largest lender, will participate in the government’s 28-billion-euro ($36.8 billion) bank support plan which seeks to ensure adequate funding for the economy. Piraeus Bank said its board decided in favor of the bank’s participation in the government’s liquidity support plan. The bank will hold a shareholders’ meeting on January 23 to seek approval for a 370-million-euro issue of preferred shares to be sold to the state, it said. Under the plan, Greece will spend up to 5 billion euros to boost banks’ capital ratios via the purchase of preferred shares, which will pay the government a 10 percent dividend. Banks using this facility will accept a state representative on their boards with a right to veto dividend policy and executives’ pay. Banks have the right to buy back the preferred shares no sooner than July 1, 2009. The buyback price will be set by their shareholders and will need Finance Ministry approval. Others taking part in the plan include National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, ATEbank and Proton Bank. (Reuters) EU regulators reclaim agricultural subsidies European Union regulators reclaimed farm subsidies of 528.5 million euros ($694 million) from member states including Italy, Greece and the UK because of inadequate controls and other rule violations. The aid was for products including olive oil and cotton, the European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s regulatory arm in Brussels, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Italy must return 162.5 million euros, Greece 151 million euros and the UK 84.7 million euros. The order also covers Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Spain, France, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden. (Bloomberg) Inflation drop Romania’s annual inflation fell to 6.7 percent in November against October’s 7.4 percent, below market expectations, the National Statistics Board said yesterday. Prices rose 0.3 percent on the month in November, with food costs edging up 0.7 percent. Non-food items were 0.1 percent down, while services rose 0.4 percent. Analysts polled by Reuters had produced a mid-range headline inflation forecast of 7 percent and a month-on-month figure of 0.6 percent. (Reuters) Lukoil profits OAO Lukoil said third-quarter profit advanced 40 percent as Russia’s largest non-state oil producer benefited from hedging after crude prices fell from a July record. Net income rose to $3.47 billion, or $4.09 a share, from $2.48 billion, or $3 a share, in the same period last year, the Moscow-based company said yesterday in a statement. That beat the $3.16 billion median estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. «Results came in much stronger than expected, the main reason being the company posted a hedging gain of $623 million in the third quarter,» Igor Kurinnyy, an oil and gas analyst with ING Groep NV, said by telephone from London. Lukoil had a $719 million loss through hedging practices in the first half of 2008, as Urals crude export prices grew, which contracted to $96 million in the first nine months of the year, the company said. (Bloomberg)

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