In Brief

ATEbank: No deal with Groupama on insurance ATEbank said on Wednesday that talks with French insurer Groupama to sell it a majority stake in its insurance subsidiary had ended unsuccessfully. In October this year ATEbank opted for French mutual insurer Groupama as the preferred bidder for a majority 50.08 percent stake in Agrotiki Insurance, ahead of Germany’s Ergo. «Talks with Groupama were concluded without success,» state-controlled ATEbank said in a filing to the Athens stock exchange without providing further details. The bank said it would review its strategy as a major shareholder of ATE Insurance in due course while continuing to grow the company. (Reuters) Turkey cuts spending by 3 bln lira, says minister ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s government cut total budget spending planned for 2009 by 3.061 billion lira ($2.02 billion), Economy Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Thursday, as the country heads into a possible loan deal with the International Monetary Fund. Parliament also accepted a resolution cutting spending for some ministries by between 10 percent and 16.5 percent in 2009, corresponding to a 3.061 billion lira spending cut. The justice, education and health ministries are among those that lost some funding. Simsek told parliament that government investment spending alone would be lowered by 1.8 billion lira next year. An IMF mission is scheduled to visit Turkey in early January for talks with Turkish officials. Turkey is expected to sign a regular standby or a precautionary standby loan deal with the IMF to help it withstand the global financial crisis. Russia-Serbia deals Russia’s gas giant Gazprom signed on Wednesday with Serbia a package of energy deals worth up to $2.5 billion, which could turn the Balkan state into a regional energy hub. Under one contract, Russia bought a 51 percent stake in Serbia’s oil company NIS for 400 million euros, pledging to invest 550 million euros by 2012 to modernize local refineries. There were also accords on building a gas storage unit and a 400-kilometer gas pipeline in Serbia, part of Gazprom’s 10 billion joint project with Italy’s ENI, to deliver Siberian gas to Southern Europe under the Black Sea. (Reuters) Bosnia energy The government of Bosnia’s Muslim Croat federation called off energy deals worth 7 billion Bosnian marka (3.5 billion euros) with strategic partners because of political problems, a minister said on Wednesday. In 2006, the government chose an Austrian-led consortium, Germany’s EnBW and Swiss-Kazakhstan group BMG/Kaztransgas to build four coal-fired plants with capacity of 2,000 megawatts and four hydro-power plants of 200 MW capacity. (Reuters) Kuwait highway loan The Kuwait Fund for Economic Development initialed on Wednesday a deal with Bosnia on a 30-million-euro loan to build a section of a north-to-south highway. The funds will help the construction of a complex 2.5-kilometer section of a strategic transport artery passing through Bosnia and linking Budapest with the Croatian port of Ploce. (Reuters)