ECONOMY

In Brief

Revenues from Cypriot tourism down 3.5 pct Cyprus’s revenues from tourism declined for the first time in at least four years, as fewer visitors traveled to the eastern Mediterranean island. Revenues fell 3.5 percent to 1.79 billion euros ($2.37 billion) from 1.86 billion euros a year earlier, according to figures released by the Nicosia-based statistics service yesterday. That was the first annual decline since 2005. A total of 2.4 million visitors arrived on the island last year, a 0.5 percent decline from 2007. The divided nation, which adopted the euro as its currency a year ago, relies on tourism for more than a fifth of its gross domestic product and more than a quarter of its jobs. Global financial turmoil is expected to weigh on growth in Cyprus this year, the government estimates, as weakness in the UK and Russian economies dampens tourism. Government plans for an aid package for the island’s tourism and construction industries may exceed 40 million euros, the Stockwatch website reported, citing statements from Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis. (Bloomberg) Fitch upgrades ratings on Marfin Egnatia Bank Ratings agency Fitch upgraded its long-term issuer default rating on Marfin Egnatia Bank (MEB) to BBB+ from BBB and its short-term rating on the lender to F2 from F3, reflecting its successful integration with its parent Marfin Popular Bank (MPB). Fitch also affirmed its individual ratings on MEB due to «its good local franchise, sound profitability, improved cost efficiency and adequate asset quality.» Power project Czech power firm CEZ said yesterday it will withdraw from its 1.4-billion-euro ($1.85 billion) power project joint venture with the government of Bosnia’s Serb Republic. «We have informed the government that we aim to sell our 51 percent stake in the joint venture because of contractual breaches,» Aleksandar Obradovic, general manager of the joint venture Nove Elektrane RS, told a news conference. CEZ and Bosnian Serb power utility EPRS signed the deal in 2007 that includes the construction of a coal-fired power plant of up to 700 megawatts, development of a mine and reconstruction of an existing power plant in the southeastern town of Gacko. Under the deal CEZ holds a 51 stake in Nove Elektrane RS, while the reminder belongs to the regional power company EPR. (Reuters) Bank sale The majority owner of Bulgaria’s small Corporate Commercial Bank has reached a deal to sell a 30 percent stake to an Omani fund for an undisclosed sum, the bank said in a statement. Corpbank, Bulgaria’s tenth-largest bank in terms of assets, said majority owner Bromac has signed a preliminary accord to sell 1.8 million shares or 30 percent of its capital to Luxemburg-registered Bulgarian Acquisition Company II (BAC II). The bank said BAC II was controlled by the Oman State General Reserve Fund, which is one of the key investment institutions of the government of the sultan of Oman. (Reuters) Turkish telecoms Turk Telekomunikasyon AS, a Turkish landline phone operator, will set aside $1 billion for possible acquisitions in 2009, the company said in a filing with the Istanbul Stock Exchange yesterday. (Bloomberg)