ECONOMY

In Brief

Bulgaria ‘is not in talks on IMF deal’ SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria is not in talks with a visiting International Monetary Fund mission on a funding deal as the Balkan country does not need help to cope with the global crisis for now, government officials said yesterday. A growing number of economists say Bulgaria might be next in line after Hungary, Latvia, Serbia, Romania and Poland sought IMF aid to tackle risks arising from its huge external imbalances. The IMF is completing a regular weeklong mission to Sofia today to review the Balkan country’s economic development and update its forecasts on main indicators but a loan program in not on the agenda. «There is no change in our position – we do not need any IMF funding for now,» one government official familiar with the mission results told Reuters. «Even if there was such a need, it’s absolutely unlikely to see any funding talks before the (parliamentary) elections (due in July),» said another official in Sofia. Direct Athens-Sharjah flights by Air Arabia The first low-cost airline in the Middle East and North Africa launched its nonstop service from Athens to Sharjah yesterday. There will be three flights per week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays), linking Athens Airport with the carrier’s hub in the United Arab Emirates. Athens is the first destination of the airline in the European Union, the third in Europe and the 46th in total. A.K. Nizar, head of the Commercial Department of Air Arabia, said, «Greece is one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU, and there is considerable passenger traffic between the country and the Middle East, particularly for tourism and business.» Intralot contract Intralot SA, the world’s second-biggest gambling services provider, won a one-year contract to supply and maintain an interactive gaming system and 3D Internet games for Croatia’s state lottery Hrvatska Lutrija d.o.o., according to an e-mailed statement from the Greek company yesterday. (Bloomberg) Petrol Ofisi appeal Petrol Ofisi, Turkey’s biggest fuel retailer, will appeal a one-year ban from public tenders for alleged irregularities, Chief Executive Melih Turker said yesterday. Petrol Ofisi, owned by Turkey’s Dogan Group and Austria’s OMV, is accused of delivering fuel oil with higher-than-agreed levels of sulfur to a state power plant in Istanbul after winning a tender last year. (Reuters) Malls in Turkey German real estate company Prime Development said yesterday it planned to invest $1.5 billion in building shopping malls in Turkey. The first two investments in the southern cities of Antakya and Iskenderun, with a total value of $350 million, would be completed within a year, the company added. (Reuters) RTB Bor deadline Serbia has granted Austria’s A-TEC, the sole bidder in a tender for troubled copper mining and smelting complex RTB Bor, a deadline extension to submit a binding offer, the state privatization agency said. (Reuters) Croatian jobless Croatia’s unemployment rate rose to 15 percent in March from 14.8 percent in February, the country’s State Statistics Bureau said yesterday. (Reuters)