ECONOMY

In Brief

National Bank plans medium-term debt National Bank, Greece’s largest lender, said yesterday it planned to issue medium-term debt guaranteed by the state, making use of the government’s 28-billion-euro liquidity support package. National Bank said it would do so despite its own liquidity reserves of 9 billion euros, citing the «need for a coordinated response by the country’s banking system to ease the impact of the (world financial) crisis.» Greece has come up with the plan to ensure the economy is adequately funded, aiming to keep credit expansion above 10 percent a year. The government’s support package includes capital injections via the issue of dividend-paying preferred shares by banks, guarantees on bank debt and liquidity support through special government bonds. Most of Greece’s major banks are taking part in the three-pillar plan. National has already obtained shareholder approval for a 350-million-euro preferred share issue under the plan. (Reuters) Excel Maritime weighs its legal options Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd, a transporter of commodities including iron ore and coal, said at least two charterers have begun paying the shipowner half of the agreed rate, and the company may pursue legal action. Excel also said it had suspended its dividend, starting from the fourth quarter of 2008, to save money, according to a Market Wire statement yesterday. Excel fell as much as 17 percent. The shares traded as low as $6 and were down $1.01, or 14 percent, to $6.19 early in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shipowner said the two charterers have lease contracts on three ships. If the company continues to receive a half rate for the duration of the charter contracts, Excel would lose about $107 million. An unspecified number of other charterers have approached Kifissia, Greece-based Excel about renegotiating rates, according to the statement. «This is the first time with a major company where the charterers are saying, ‘We’re not going bankrupt, but guess what, I’m paying you 50 percent,’» Charles Rupinski, an analyst at Maxim Group LLC in New York, said in a statement. (Bloomberg) Transgaz profit Romanian gas pipeline operator Transgaz yesterday posted a 6.5 percent rise in 2008 net profit, missing market forecasts, as gas demand slowed more than expected. The state monopoly posted a net profit of 238.6 million lei ($70 million), compared with an average forecast of 259 million lei in a Reuters poll. Turnover rose 7.8 percent to 1.1 billion lei. «What influenced our profit in 2008 was the reduction in the levels of natural gas transported compared with 2007 because of lower demand,» Transgaz said in a statement. Many industrial clients, such as ArcelorMittal, temporarily shut plants in the fourth quarter because of falling demand stemming from the global cash squeeze, hurting Transgaz’s activity. Nine-month net profit stood at 179 million lei, up over 4 percent from the same period of 2007. (Reuters) Earnings doubled Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, Turkey’s biggest mobile-phone company, said pretax profit in 2008 reached 3.72 billion liras ($2.2 billion), according to a preliminary filing with the Istanbul Stock Exchange. The Istanbul-based company had 1.76 billion liras in net profit in 2007. (Bloomberg)