ECONOMY

In Brief

Coca-Cola Hellenic reports big profit drop Greek bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH) posted a larger-than-expected 93 percent drop in first-quarter profits yesterday but its CEO said cost savings and lower input prices should help support profits through the rest of the year. The world’s second-largest bottler of Coke drinks said its first-quarter net profits fell to 1.9 million euros ($2.5 million), as the recession hit demand for soft drinks and weakened currencies in key markets. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast 9.9 million euros in net profits on average. The global downturn has seen consumers cut spending on soft drinks, and analysts said the approaching summer season would be crucial for the company’s full-year performance. CCH said currency devaluations against the euro in a number of key markets in Central and Eastern Europe and restructuring costs of 7.7 million euros also weighed on the bottom line. (Reuters) Turkish privatization tender called off ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has canceled the tender for the privatization of its national lottery after the two bidders failed to reach the $1.622 billion minimum bid that had been set, the Privatization Administration said yesterday. The two bidders were a consortium led by OPAP, Europe’s biggest betting firm, and a Turkish consortium led by mobile phone group Turkcell. Arrivals up Greece’s Transport and Communications Ministry said foreign arrivals at airports in the country increased an annual 10 percent in April after the government suspended airport slot charges at most airports. International arrivals at the Rhodes airport rose 26 percent, according to an e-mailed statement from the ministry. (Bloomberg) Lending rate National Bank of Greece SA, the country’s largest lender, said it had lent an additional 1.3 billion euros in the first quarter of the year. The bank, in an e-mailed statement, said it had added 870 million euros in new mortgage loans since the beginning of the year. (Bloomberg) Bosnian banks The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said yesterday it had approved two loans worth 45 million euros ($60 million) to Bosnian financial institutions to help them resist the global economic crisis. The loans provided to UniCredit Bank Mostar and UniCredit Leasing Sarajevo aim to provide a continued flow of finance to small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia at a time of scarce alternative commercial funding, the EBRD said in a press release. Both financial institutions are subsidiaries of the Italian banking group UniCredit. «These projects are an important contribution to supporting the real economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina while funding levels remain low,» Giulio Moreno, the head of the EBRD’s Sarajevo office, was quoted as saying. UniCredit is the largest banking group in the Central and Eastern European region, with over 4,000 branches in 19 countries. The group has invested about 10 billion euros of equity in Central and Eastern Europe and has around 85 billion euros of total customer loans in the region. (AFP)