ECONOMY

In Brief

Greek economy may slow to pace of 0.5 pct in Q1 Greece’s economy likely slowed to a 0.5 percent annual expansion pace in the first quarter from 2.4 percent in the last quarter of 2008, according to the median forecast of five economists surveyed by Reuters. Greece’s 250-billion-euro economy, which makes up about 2.5 percent of the eurozone, is feeling the impact of the global downturn after years of 4 percent growth. Manufacturing and construction are contracting, with tourism seen weak this year. «GDP growth will slow to +0.4 percent year-on-year in Q1, which is the lowest rate since 1993, as the continuing contraction in investment spending and rapidly deteriorating conditions in the exporting sector take a heavy toll on economic activity,» said economist Nikos Magginas at National Bank. «Economic activity in 2009 as a whole is expected to contract by 0.5 percent year-on-year as the exporting sector feels the full impact of the economic crisis during the following quarters, while domestic demand will continue to shrink,» he said. (Reuters) Hellaktor puts in best bid for Romanian highway Hellaktor SA, Greece’s biggest builder, said a group led by France’s Vinci SA and its own Aktor unit was declared «best bidder» for a 2-billion-euro road project in Romania. The 58-kilometer highway between Comarnic and Brasov is the first contract awarded by Romania to build and operate a highway, the company said in an Athens bourse filing yesterday. (Bloomberg) ‘Buy bonds.’ Investors should buy Greek government five-year notes because they are underpriced amid a glut of supply from earlier in the year, according to Societe Generale SA. «The five-year was sold recently and the market has taken some time absorbing that,» Ciaran O’Hagan, a fixed-income strategist in Paris at SocGen, said yesterday. «It’s still trading at a discount.» The Greek government won’t be issuing any more of the securities this year, he said. (Bloomberg) Capital issue Cyprus’s Marfin Popular Bank said it has completed a capital securities issue designed to boost its Hybrid Tier 1 capital ratio, it said yesterday. The bank said it issued capital securities worth 242.2 million euros. It had initially offered up to 250 million euros’ worth of Capital Securities to investors. The issue was open to investors who invested at least 50,000 euros each. The securities bear a fixed interest rate of 7 percent, payable every three months. (Reuters) Ferry deal Minoan Lines SA, a Greek ferry operator, said it agreed to sell its 34 percent stake in Hellenic Seaways to ANEK Lines SA for 125 million euros. The company made the statement in an Athens bourse filing yesterday. (Bloomberg) Profit drop S&B Industrial Minerals SA, a Greek mining group established in 1934, said profit in the first quarter dropped 83 percent as construction and commodities demand fell. Net income declined to 593,000 euros ($812,230), or 0.02 euros a share, from 4.3 million euros in the same period a year earlier, or 0.14 euros a share, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday from the Athens-based company. (Bloomberg)