In Brief

CCH seen posting 64 percent drop in Q1 profit Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH), the world’s No 2 bottler of Coke drinks, is seen posting a 64.7 percent drop in first-quarter profit as the recession hit demand for soft drinks and weakened currencies in key markets. The average forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts is for net profit of 9.9 million euros ($12.9 million), down from 28.10 million in the same period in 2008. Estimates ranged widely, from a loss of 8 million euros to profit of 20.2 million. The global downturn has seen consumers cut spending on soft drinks, hurting the bottler’s lucrative retail sales business. The bottler has not provided guidance for 2009, citing the global uncertainty, but has said softer input costs and further cost-cutting efforts should help offset adverse economic conditions. CCH is targeting savings of about 120 million euros this year through a restructuring of its operations. Earnings are scheduled for release on May 7. (Reuters) Turkey likely to recover at faster clip than peers Turkey’s economy will probably contract 2.5 percent this year, less than the government’s estimate, and may recover faster than other emerging markets, Merrill Lynch & Co said in a report yesterday. Economic growth is expected to return in the fourth quarter, aided by the country’s strong banking system, London-based Merrill Lynch economist Turker Hamzaoglu said in the e-mailed report. The government is forecasting a contraction of 3.6 percent this year. «The opponents of a V-shaped recovery around the world put it plain and simple: This is mainly a balance-sheet recession triggered by a financial crisis,» he said. «We agree, but not for Turkey, which experiences more of an inventory cycle.» The inflation rate will probably dip to a low in October and rise to 5.5 percent by the end of the year, Hamzaoglu said. The central bank, which forecasts an inflation rate of 6.8 percent this year, may start raising the benchmark interest rate in the final quarter or in early 2010, he said. (Bloomberg) Russian deal Intracom Telecom SA, the Greek phone equipment maker controlled by JSC Sitronics, got two contracts valued at a total $45 million to provide equipment to MTS Russia, that country’s biggest cell phone operator. Intracom made the statement in a filing to the Athens bourse. (Bloomberg) South Stream Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday that Russia and Bulgaria have set aside their differences over the proposed South Stream gas pipeline to Europe, paving the way for an agreement within the next couple of weeks. «We have no disagreements left,» Putin said at a televised news conference with his Bulgarian counterpart. «Our earlier disagreements were purely technical.» Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev held talks with Putin on Monday during a three-day visit to Moscow after tensions emerged between the two countries over the proposals for the Kremlin-lobbied project, mooted by Russia as a key alternative to existing export routes crossing Ukraine and Belarus. Putin said the pipeline deal could be signed within a couple of weeks. (AP)

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