ECONOMY

In Brief

OPAP profits fall 7.2 pct, below expectations OPAP SA, Europe’s largest publicly traded gaming company, said fourth-quarter profit fell 7.2 percent on higher provisions for lawsuits and legal risks. Net income dropped to 178.9 million euros ($232.5 million) from 192.8 million euros in the same period a year earlier, the Athens-based company said in a bourse filing yesterday. That missed the 182.9-million-euro estimate of eight analysts Bloomberg News surveyed by telephone and e-mail. Provisions rose to 31.8 million euros from 8.2 million euros in the year earlier period, according to the bourse filing. «For 2009, despite the deteriorating economic conditions, we will focus on maintaining our strong profitability at high levels and support our initiatives to expand outside our core concession,» Chairman Christos Hadjiemmanuil said in the statement. OPAP and its partners in Turkey qualified to enter the final stage of the tender for the Turkish national lottery Milli Piyano Idaresi, the statement said. (Bloomberg) Crude oil production seen rising fourfold North Aegean Sea crude oil production by Kavala Oil SA, Greece’s only hydrocarbon exploration and production company, will increase almost fourfold by the end of the year, Costis Hatzidakis, the country’s minister for development, said. Closely held Aegean Energy SA, the majority shareholder of Kavala Oil, has the concession rights to develop two new areas of the northern Aegean Sea. In April of last year, the Greek government approved a $225 million development plan for the Prinos North and Epsilon fields located 8 kilometers west of the island of Thasos. Oil extraction work, completely financed by the private sector, began on Saturday, Development Minister Hatzidakis said in an e-mailed statement. From a current daily 1,300 barrels, production will reach «in a first phase more than 5,000 barrels a day by the end of the year and the aim of the company is to move to 10,000 barrels a day next year,» he said. The investment is important for Greece as 40 percent of revenue from the extraction of the oil goes to the state. (Bloomberg) Romanian output Romania’s industrial output fell 12.1 percent on the year in January as the global crisis battered manufacturing, though better than expected monthly figures signaled some stabilization of production. Statistical data released yesterday showed output rose 0.9 percent on the month in January, compared to December’s plunge of 19.2 percent. Tumbling demand from the eurozone has hurt Central and Eastern European economies in recent months, forcing many manufacturers to halt production temporarily and lay off workers. But analysts said the data showed the sector may have already absorbed the worst of the adjustment and that sharp falls may ease off. (Reuters) IMF talks A mission from the International Monetary Fund began talks yesterday with the Serbian government on a new loan arrangement to help authorities here grapple with the global financial crisis. Serbia is seeking a $2 million (1.5-million-euro) arrangement with the IMF only three months after it secured a standby loan worth $530 million from the Fund. The new loan is required to support Serbia’s worsening balance of payments and currency, the dinar, which has lost more than 25 percent of its value since the financial crisis hit the country. (AFP)