In Brief

Greece to borrow 43.7 bln euros this year Greece expects to borrow a total of 43.7 billion euros ($55.9 billion) this year, the head of the country’s debt agency (PDMA) said yesterday, raising a previous total borrowing estimate of 42 billion. «We have already covered about 42 percent of our borrowing needs, which will total 43.7 billion euros,» Public Debt Management Agency chief Spyros Papanicolaou told Reuters in a telephone interview. Greece, which borrows under the name Hellenic Republic, suffered a credit rating downgrade to A-/A-2 by Standard & Poor’s in January on worries about its public finances. With one of the eurozone’s highest public debt-to-GDP ratios, Greece has had to pay a higher premium to borrow funds in the last months. Risk aversion led to a widening of the yield spread of 10-year Greek government paper over German Bunds to over 300 basis points. Papanicolaou said the country, which makes up about 2.5 percent of the eurozone economy, has already covered about 42 percent of its total borrowing needs this year. (Reuters) Economic pace seen slowing to 2.3 pct in Q4 Greece’s economy slowed to a 2.3 percent annual expansion pace in the last quarter of 2008 from 3.1 percent in the third quarter, according to the median forecast of four economists surveyed by Reuters. Greece’s economy, about 2.5 percent of the eurozone, is slowing down after years of 4 percent growth, feeling the impact of the global downturn. «The Greek economy appears to be losing steam… as fixed investment continues to decline at a strong pace, whereas consumer spending has slowed considerably,» said economist Nikos Magginas at National Bank. (Reuters) Louis bid Louis Ltd, the biggest tourism company in Greece and Cyprus, has a 20 percent stake in a joint bid that will lease a terminal and cruise ship pier for 25 years at the French port of Marseille. A unit of Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator, and MSC Crociere will each have a 40 percent stake in the venture, according to a Cyprus Stock Exchange bourse filing from Louis yesterday. The three companies combined have an 85 percent market share of Marseille’s cruise business, according to the filing. The European Commission approved the deal on February 9. The venture will invest 8 million euros ($10.3 million) and the port authority 4 million euros to expand the pier, in line with plans to increase the port’s passengers to 1 million by 2011 from 530,000 currently, Louis said. (Bloomberg) Romanian funding Romania may need external funding in the second half of this year, when a large part of short-term foreign debt falls due, central bank chief economist Valentin Lazea said yesterday. Many economists have said the European Union state may be next in line to seek financial aid from an international institution, following several of its Eastern European peers, as the global crisis cuts off sources of cash. The risks stem from the private sector, where banks have been lending heavily in recent years, particularly in hard currency, raising doubts over Romania’s ability to continue funding its external shortfall. «At the moment, we don’t have a pressing need for external financing. The majority of financing needs are in the second half of the year,» Lazea said. (Reuters)

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