Vivartia sees sales, profits grow in Q1 Vivartia, Greece’s leading food company, announced yesterday a significant improvement in its January-March 2009 figures. Group sales grew by 15.9 percent year-on-year to reach 335.9 million euros, partly due to the incorporation of the companies Everest and Nonni’s. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose by 2.9 percent from the same period in 2008 to reach 29.3 million euros. Chief Executive Spyros Theodoropoulos argued that despite the financial hardship in most of the countries in which the group is active, Q1 figures are as budgeted and give rise to optimism. Smaller gains for business in 2008 The majority of local companies saw their profits fall last year, according to data processed by research company ICAP. While there is a clear rise in revenues, the disproportionate growth of expenditure points to a lack of control over spending for most Greek firms, as shown by their financial reports for 2008. Sales by the firms in the sample rose by 11 percent over 2007, but net earnings dropped by 43 percent. Worst off was industry, with a 57 percent fall in profits. S&P on Marfin Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said yesterday it has revised its outlooks on Cyprus-based Marfin Popular Bank Public Co Ltd (MPB) and its core Greek subsidiary Marfin Egnatia Bank (MEB) to negative from stable. At the same time, the BBB- long-term and A-3 short-term counterparty credit ratings on both banks were affirmed. IMF-Romania The International Monetary Fund yesterday praised fiscal tightening taken by Romania in response to the global crisis, saying reform steps may help soften recession in the country. The Fund’s mission chief to Romania said the economy would continue to contract in the second and third quarter after global financial woes forced the country to secure 20 billion euros in IMF-led loans earlier this year. But he said a recovery could begin as soon as late 2009. (Reuters) Serb rates Serbia’s central bank left its main policy interest rate at 14 percent yesterday, as concerns about price stability in the next few months outweighed a need to spur economic activity. The rate decision was in line with the IMF’s advice to continue cautiously with rate cuts to keep inflationary expectations in check. (Reuters) Bulgaria-IBM Bulgaria and US company IBM signed an agreement yesterday to develop nanotechnologies – shrinking manufacturing to the molecular level – in the country, as part of Bulgaria’s drive to boost competitiveness. Earlier this year, Sofia decided to set up a nanotechnology research center with capital of 50 million levs ($35.26 million), it said in a statement. (Reuters) Visitors to Turkey The number of foreign visitors to Turkey rose 6.21 percent year-on-year in April to 1.75 million, its Tourism Ministry said yesterday, indicating sector resilience to the global economic slowdown. (Reuters) Albania investment Foreign investment in Albania reached 880 million euros last year, against 324 million euros in 2004, Tirana announced, adding that it expects inflows from abroad to continue.