ECONOMY

In Brief

Coca-Cola Hellenic seen posting 22 pct profit rise Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH), the No 2 bottler of Coca-Cola drinks, is seen posting a 21.8 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit as cost cuts more than offset lower soft drink demand, according to a Reuters poll. The average of eight analysts’ forecasts is for a quarterly net profit of 45.78 million euros ($59.33 million), up from 37.60 million in the same period in 2007. CCH bottles Coke-branded products in 27 countries across Europe and in Nigeria, with more than half of its revenues coming from developing and emerging markets. The soft drink industry has been badly hit by the global economic downturn, which has forced consumers to cut down on general spending and impulse purchases of beverages. CCH, which is 23.3 percent-owned by Coca-Cola, has responded to the difficult economic environment by cutting 150 jobs in Poland and saying it is looking for opportunities to further reduce costs. (Reuters) MIG starts talks on Olympic Airlines sale Buyout firm Marfin Investment Group (MIG) met with advisers to the Greek government yesterday over the privatization of state-owned Olympic Airlines. MIG is the only company to show interest in the sale of the lossmaking carrier after Greece’s tender collapsed last week and the government called for direct talks with selected investors. «It was an initial meeting between the two parties, consisting of legal and economic advisers,» said a source close to the negotiations. It was not clear when the next meeting will take place but talks between the two sides are expected to wind up in less than a month. Business insolvencies Business insolvencies in Europe may grow by 13 percent in 2009, accelerating from an 11 percent increase last year as the region’s economy slips into recession, according to Germany-based Creditreform. The number of corporate bankruptcies may rise to 170,000 this year, Michael Bretz, who heads the economy department at the Neuss-based research institute, said yesterday. Insolvencies in 2008 rose to 150,240, the first increase since 2004, Creditreform said on its website. «The wave of insolvencies hasn’t reached most of the European countries in 2008 with full force yet,» Creditreform said. (Bloomberg) Refinery sale Bulgaria will sell minority stakes in the country’s only refinery, controlled by Russia’s Lukoil, and in the leading fertilizer producer Neochim among others, the country’s sell-off agency said yesterday. The Balkan state will offer minority stakes in some 74 companies in a public tender at the Bulgarian stock exchange by the end of the month as part of its program to offload state assets and boost capital markets, the privatization agency said. The state will sell its 0.03 percent in Neftochim Burgas refinery and has set the minimum price at 27.9 levs ($18.5) per share. It will also sell 0.36 percent in fertilizer plant Neochim and has set the minimum price at 28.1 levs per share. (Reuters) Turkish GDP Turkey’s gross domestic product at the end of 2008 was about $750 billion, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. Economic output at the end of 2007 was about $660 billion and the global credit crisis slowed growth to 0.5 percent in the third quarter of 2008. (Bloomberg)