In Brief

Piraeus Port declares 77 percent drop in profits Greece’s Piraeus Port (OLP), one of the largest in the Mediterranean, reported a 77 percent drop in 2008 net profits due to labor action and provided a cautious outlook for 2009, citing slowing cargo activity. OLP’s net profits for the year dropped to 5.6 million euros ($7.60 million) on a 32 percent fall in revenues to 116 million euros. OLP said yesterday it would propose a dividend of 0.07 euros a share. «Our estimates for 2009… are cautious,» the company said in a statement. «Cargo business has dropped significantly in the first two months, especially in the car segment, which has seen a drop of more than 30 percent.» The company said the dockworkers’ refusal to work overtime since January 2008, in protest at the privatization of the cargo business, had exacerbated the effects of the global crisis. China’s Cosco Pacific, the world’s fifth-largest port operator, last year signed a 3.4-billion-euro deal with OLP to run cargo facilities at Piraeus for 35 years, starting in October 2009. (Reuters) Banks back Romania despite financial turmoil WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nine foreign-owned banks operating in Romania on Thursday pledged their commitment to stay in the country despite financial turmoil and promised to provide additional capital to their affiliates if needed. The commitment by the banks, which together hold a market share of 70 percent of assets, comes a day after Romania agreed to a 20-billion-euro financial package led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to shore up its struggling economy. «We have made substantial investments in Romania over a number of years and we remain committed to doing business in the country,» the banks said in a joint statement issued by the IMF following a meeting in Vienna. «We also acknowledge that our subsidiaries in Romania will have to adjust to the current challenging economic environment. A need for additional capital cannot be excluded, and will be provided as necessary,» they added. The banks include Erste Bank, Raiffeisen International, Eurobank, National Bank of Greece, Unicredit, Societe Generale, Alpha Bank, Volksbank and Piraeus Bank. MS fined Greece’s securities regulator fined Morgan Stanley International Ltd 30,000 euros for failing to promptly inform the bourse of changes in shareholdings in listed Greek companies. (Bloomberg) ATE earnings ATEbank SA, a state-controlled Greek lender, posted an 88 percent fall in profits last year to 27.8 million euros, according to an e-mailed statement. Profit last year was affected by an increase in loan-loss charges and lower trading income, the statement said. (Bloomberg) Ratings cuts Moody’s Investors Service cut the outlook on Slovakia’s government bonds ratings to stable from positive, saying the risks to investment in the Eastern European country have increased due to the global financial crisis. The rating company kept the Slovak long-term credit rating at A1, its fifth-best grade and level with the neighboring Czech Republic or Greece, Moody’s said. (Bloomberg)

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