ECONOMY

In Brief

Restis group teams up with Abu Dhabi’s IPIC Restis Group, Greece’s fifth-largest shipping company, will team up with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company to jointly invest in shipping, energy and transport. The two companies will create a joint venture with an initial investment of $1.5 billion, Athens-based Restis Group said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The two companies yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in a number of areas, including storage, shipbuilding, pipelines and ports. «Through acquisitions and strategic holdings the new consortium aims at creating the first vertically integrated group that will be active not only in oil extraction and refining but in its transportation,» Khadem A. Al Qubaisi, IPIC’s managing director, said in the statement. IPIC is owned by the government of Abu Dhabi and has an investment portfolio currently estimated at more than $14 billion. The Athens-based Restis Group will manage the new company, according to the statement, with a base in Abu Dhabi. (Bloomberg) Fourlis net profits rise 19 pct to 55 mln euros Fourlis, the Greek franchiser for flat-pack furniture and homewares producer Ikea, said yesterday net profit rose 19 percent to 55 million euros ($70.47 million) last year, as its affordable home goods business weathered a world downturn. Fourlis said group sales rose 17 percent to 784.5 million euros, with Ikea stores producing sales of 334 million euros, up 32.4 percent. (Reuters) Turkish trade Foreign Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen said Turkey plans to more than triple the volume of trade with neighboring Georgia in the next few years to $4.5 billion. «Construction, energy and food production are our main areas of investment in Georgia this year,» Kursad told reporters yesterday. Representatives of as many as 91 Turkish companies attended the forum, organizers said. Georgian-Turkish trade in 2008 increased 34 percent from the previous year to $1.3 billion. (Bloomberg) Bulgarian lev Bulgaria’s determination to peg its currency to the euro, while saving the lev from devaluation at a time of global turmoil, could also have negative consequences for the economy, analysts have warned. Nevertheless, the currency board is seen as having helped Bulgaria come through a severe banking crisis in the mid-1990s. Ivan Iskrov, Bulgaria’s central bank governor, and Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev recently reiterated their commitment to the board and fixed exchange rate until the country joins the eurozone. «The currency regime is here to stay,» Stanishev told an economic forum in Sofia. «Whatever adjustments occur in the Bulgarian economy, company bankruptcies included, it will all happen under the existing currency board and fixed exchange rate,» Iskrov added. International Monetary Fund-imposed austerity measures and a currency board regime that pegged the lev to the euro at a fixed rate of 1.95583 leva per euro helped the country emerge from its worst-ever banking crisis in 1996-1997, when 14 banks failed. (AFP)