Marfin seen reporting profit drop for 2008 Marfin Popular Bank Pcl, Cyprus’s second-biggest lender, may say profit fell last year after gains from one-time sales helped its year-earlier results. Net income at the Nicosia-based bank probably declined to 423.5 million euros ($542.5 million) compared with 563.4 million euros in 2007, according to the median estimate of six analysts surveyed by e-mail and telephone. Profit in 2007 was helped by a one-time gain from the sale of banking stakes. Excluding gains from the sale of stakes in Hellenic Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Universal Life insurance and discontinued operations from Marfin Invest, 2007 profit was 358.5 million euros, the company said. The bank gained about 60 million euros in the fourth quarter of 2008 related to the sale of a stake in an insurance unit to France’s CNP Assurances SA. Stripping out that gain, full-year profit was 377.9 million euros, according to the median of five analysts. Marfin Popular is scheduled to report earnings on Thursday after the market closes. (Bloomberg) Sweetener for Bulgarian wine production SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria will use 112 million euros ($145 million) from European Union funds in the next five years to improve its vineyards and promote its wines abroad, government officials said yesterday. Winemakers can apply for funds to uproot aging vines and replace them with better varieties, insure vineyards and boost sales abroad, mainly to Russia and Ukraine, Deputy Agriculture Minister Dimitar Peichev told reporters. Bulgaria used to be among the world’s top wine producers and exporters during the Communist era but its vineyards deteriorated and its sales declined during the difficult transition to a market economy. The Balkan country produced 110 million liters of wines last year, down from more than 400 million in the 1980s. The global economic downturn cut Bulgaria’s wine sales last year by about 25 percent and Peichev said the EU aid would allow winemakers to boost wine quality, making them more resilient during downturns. Airport upgrade Bulgaria launched the upgrade of the airport of its second-biggest city Plovdiv yesterday in an attempt to lure tourists and boost cargo transport as the global economic downturn bites. The Socialist-led government will spend 40 million levs ($26.44 million) to build a new terminal and almost double plane stands to unclog traffic and increase the airport’s capacity to 500,000 passengers annually. «The modernization of the airport will improve the transport and tourist opportunities in the region and will encourage airlines to open new destinations,» the Transport Ministry said. (Reuters) Nireus meetings Greek aquaculture company Nireus will take part in the European Midcap Event in Frankfurt next week, a meeting which brings together institutional investors with listed companies in Europe. A total of 32 firms from countries such as Greece, Italy and Turkey are scheduled to take part in the meetings, including eight from Greece. Institutional investors hold one-third of Nireus, while 24 percent belongs to foreign portfolios.