In Brief

Bulgaria in talks with Russia over energy plant Bulgaria is in negotiations with Russia to get funding for a planned 4 billion-euro ($5.46 billion) nuclear power station on the Danube. «We are holding preliminary talks with Russian authorities over the possible terms and conditions of funding for the Belene project,» Aisehel Rufy, a spokeswoman for the Bulgarian Energy and Economy Ministry, said yesterday by telephone. «Options for fundraising have changed with the global crisis.» Bulgaria selected RWE AG, Germany’s second-largest utility, last year as a partner to develop and manage the 2,000-megawatt plant. The government also hired BNP Paribas SA, France’s largest bank by market value, to arrange a 250-million-euro loan to help fund construction. (Bloomberg) Intralot may report double-digit profit drop Intralot, the world’s second-largest lottery systems provider, is seen posting a double-digit drop in 2008 profit on high startup costs in new markets and foreign-exchange losses. Nine analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast net profit of 95 million euros ($130.1 million), against 112.3 million euros a year earlier. Analysts expect Intralot, which runs sports betting games in 12 countries, to book high startup costs in Europe and the Americas, which will more than offset strong revenues. In a bid to capitalize on the liberalization of world gaming markets, Intralot has started sports betting and lottery operations in Spain, Italy and the Australian state of Victoria in the last two years. Sales are seen rising 34.4 percent to 1.12 billion euros, thanks to expansion in Italy and robust sports betting business in Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania on the back of last summer’s European Soccer Cup. Intralot said in November it could not achieve its full-year targets for either net profit of 125 million euros or revenue of 1.15 billion, citing rising economic uncertainties. Analysts are concerned a deepening global economic downturn will hit sports betting and pile on foreign-exchange losses this year as well. Intralot is scheduled to release profit figures early next week. (Reuters) Athens fund Ethniki Asset Management AEDAK will issue the Athens exchange’s second exchange-traded fund, the bourse said in a filing yesterday. The ETF will be based on the Athens benchmark general index of 60 companies, according to the filing. (Bloomberg) Arrivals falling The number of tourists visiting Spain fell by 15.9 percent in February compared to the same month a year earlier, the steepest fall since the economic crisis began to hit the country’s second-largest industry. Data from the Tourism Ministry yesterday showed that the number of people visiting from Britain, Spain’s biggest market, sank by 23.4 percent from February 2008, as the depreciation of the pound combined with the effects of recession. A total of 2.8 million tourists came to Spain in February, which is one of the quieter months of the year. The number of tourist arrivals has now fallen every month since June 2008, and February’s decline was worse than the 13.8 percent decline recorded in December. Tourism provides more than 10 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product, and the impact of the world economic crisis has strengthened as unemployment rises in key markets. (Reuters)

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