ECONOMY

In Brief

Cyprus growth slows to 3.7 percent in 2008 NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s economy grew 3.7 percent in 2008, down from 4.4 percent in 2007, the island’s statistics department said yesterday. Cypriot gross domestic product, the second smallest in the eurozone, was provisionally worth 16.9 billion euros at current prices, compared to 15.6 billion euros in 2007. Per capita gross national income for a population of 791,700 was 19,868 euros, a 5.9 percent increase over 2007, the statistics department said. Private demand represented more than a third of GDP. Authorities expect economic growth to slow to 2 percent in 2009 on an anticipated 10 percent decline in tourism arrivals and a sluggish construction market. Tsakos Energy Q4 comes in below expectations Greece’s oil tanker company Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd’s fourth-quarter profit nearly halved and fell short of market expectations, hurt by higher expenses. For the quarter, net income dropped 47 percent to $27.6 million, or 74 cents a share, compared with $52.2 million, or $1.36 a share, a year earlier. Total expenses jumped 73 percent to $98.5 million, the company said. Operating expenses per vessel were up 13 percent, fueled by increased insurance expenses and repair costs incurred during the dry docking of vessels, Tsakos said. Vessel operating expenses rose 24 percent to $39 million, while interest and finance costs jumped 32 percent to $31 million due to the negative movements in interest rate swap valuations, which offset much of the benefits of reduced interest rates. (Reuters) Greece to EU court The European Commission said yesterday it was taking Greece and Germany to the European Union’s top court over their tax rules. Greece was being challenged over its value-added tax regime, with Germany targeted because of its tax on dividends paid to investors outside the country. The Commission said Greece had failed to notify it of the measures Athens had adopted to transpose two EU laws on VAT into national law. (Reuters) Frigoglass net Listed firm Frigoglass said 2008 profit more than halved and failed to give guidance for this year as the global downturn hit demand for its coolers and forced it to close units and cut jobs. The world’s largest maker of drinks refrigeration equipment said yesterday net profit dropped 57 percent to 19.5 million euros after one-off costs for shutting two of its 11 production units and cutting about 475 jobs. Frigoglass, which supplies bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic and brewers such as Heineken, said that, excluding a Turkish unit acquired last year, net profit dropped 48 percent to 23.7 million euros. (Reuters) Fourlis property sale Fourlis, the Greek franchiser of flat-pack furniture and homewares chain Ikea, said yesterday it agreed to sell real estate for 35 million euros. The retailer said it will incur a 3 million euro gain in the second quarter of the year from the asset sale. Retailers around the world are taking a hit from a slowing economy as consumers cut spending, but Fourlis posted a 19 percent rise in net profit last year as its affordable goods business weathered the downturn. (Reuters)