In Brief

Emporiki seeks approval on share capital hike Emporiki Bank, majority-owned by France’s Credit Agricole, said yesterday it would seek shareholder approval for an 850-million-euro ($1.1 billion) share capital increase to boost its liquidity. Credit Agricole will fully subscribe to the share issue and will take up any outstanding shares. The shareholders’ meeting will take place on February 26. «Emporiki enjoys the full support of Credit Agricole. Our objective is to make sure it is well-positioned to meet all future challenges and benefit from opportunities once the economic environment improves,» Jean Frederic de Keusse, Credit Agricole deputy CEO, said in a statement. Other Greek banks are boosting their capital by taking part in a government support package. Greece has pledged 28 billion euros to banks to keep the economy adequately funded. The scheme provides capital injections via the sale of preferred shares to the state, guarantees on debt issuance and liquidity support via special government bonds. Greek authorities expect the plan to help keep the pace of credit expansion above 10 percent this year. (Reuters) Romanian economy may shrink this year Romania’s economy may shrink this year, as investment and exports dwindle and the central bank has little room to cut the European Union’s highest interest rate, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted. At the end of a nine-day visit to Romania, Fund officials also called on the government to cut spending, take measures to ease the current-account gap and avoid lowering taxes, the IMF said in a news release yesterday. «International problems were the trigger for the downturn but longstanding imbalances within the Romanian economy are aggravating its effects at home,» the IMF said. «Balance of payments and government deficits have heightened the vulnerability to external shocks, while slow action on structural reforms has left the economy less productive and less flexible.» Romania’s government, which aims to narrow the budget deficit to 2 percent of gross domestic product this year from more than 5 percent last year, is still discussing the details of its budget plan and a possible anti-crisis package. The government predicts economic growth will slow to 2.5 percent this year from 9.1 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of last year. (Bloomberg) Balkan aid Serbia has appealed to the European Union to provide Balkan nations with help to deal with the growing impact of the global financial crisis, reports said yesterday. «We urge the EU to support the progress of Southeastern European countries with European integration… and to provide economic assistance to overcome the effects of the global economic crisis,» Bozidar Djelic, the deputy prime minister in charge of EU integration, was quoted as saying in the daily Danas. (AFP) Car sales Turkish passenger car sales fell 29 percent in January from a year earlier, the seventh consecutive decline, the Auto Distributors’ Association said in an e-mailed statement. Passenger car sales fell to 13,173, the Istanbul-based association said. Sales of commercial vehicles declined 50 percent to 6,433, it added. Turkish auto manufacturers have suspended production and fired employees as the global crisis hits demand at home and abroad. (Bloomberg)

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