In Brief

Six groups show interest in Athens metro line Greece said it had received expressions of interest from six groups, including one led by Alstom Transport SA, for a 515-million-euro ($662 million) project to extend an Athens metro line to the port of Piraeus, according to an e-mailed statement from the Environment and Public Works Ministry. Italy’s largest builder Impregilo SpA leads one group, while other bidders include Dragados SA of Spain and Greek construction company Michaniki. The extension work, which is scheduled to start by the end of the year, comprises the laying of 7.7 kilometers (4.8 miles) of track as well as the building of six new stations. The ministry said it expects the extended line, which passes through Athens’s western suburbs to Piraeus, to attract more than 135,000 additional passengers a day to the Greek capital’s metro system. (Bloomberg) Cyprus Q4 GDP growth slows to 3.0 percent Cyprus’s gross domestic product grew 3.0 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2008 from 3.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, the statistics department said in a flash estimate yesterday. Quarter-on-quarter growth was 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, level with 0.6 percent in the third quarter, it said. For the whole year, it estimated GDP growth at 3.7 percent. «The continuing deceleration in the economy is mainly attributed to financial intermediation and to real estate activities,» the statistics department said. A «relatively moderate» slowdown was seen in retail trade and the hospitality industry, it said. (Reuters) Titan projection Titan Cement Co, Greece’s biggest producer of the construction material, may say fourth-quarter profit fell 36 percent on higher operating expenses and production costs. Net income probably dropped to 29.3 million euros ($37.7 million) from 46 million euros a year earlier, according to the median estimate of five analysts in a Bloomberg News survey conducted by telephone and e-mail. Sales at Athens-based Titan rose 5.9 percent to 374.0 million euros, according to the poll. Titan is scheduled to announce earnings after the close of trading on February 24. (Bloomberg) Bulgarian threat Bulgaria’s current account deficit skyrocketed to 24.3 percent of estimated annual GDP last year, threatening the Balkan country’s financial stability. Analysts say the gap, the highest in the European Union, has made Bulgaria vulnerable to any big outflows of foreign cash and some recommended Sofia seek help from the International Monetary Fund to back up its finances. The deficit rose to 8.28 billion euros ($10.59 billion) last year from 6.3 billion in 2007 due to a growing trade gap, central bank data showed. Foreign direct investment dropped to 5.3 billion euros and covered only 65.6 percent of the gap. Wide external deficits have been at the heart of banking and debt crises for some of Central and Eastern Europe’s new EU members since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in early October. Bulgaria, which was largely unaffected last year, is set to see an even bigger decline in foreign cash flows this year and a sharp decline in growth to below 2 percent, analysts said. «Due to its unparalleled external exposure, Bulgaria faces the biggest adjustment in the region (of Eastern Europe),» said Gabor Ambrus, emerging market analyst at 4Cast. (Reuters)

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