SEE and Turkey seen returning to growth in 2010

The markets of Southeastern Europe (SEE) and Turkey are expected to resume growing next year as signs of a stabilizing global economy increase, said Takis Arapoglou, CEO of National Bank of Greece(NBG), yesterday. «These markets are seen re-entering a growth orbit in 2010,» the head of Greece’s largest lender told shareholders. «We believe the few recent signs of stabilization in the world economy will increase in the second half of 2009.» NBG, present in 12 countries, including Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, has been expanding in recent years as it boosts its income from foreign operations. In the first quarter of 2009, National Bank reported a group net profit of 317 million euros, 44 percent of which came from foreign operations. National will temporarily halt its branch network expansion abroad in an effort to contain operating costs, Arapoglou said. The lender won’t pay a cash dividend on earnings last year, due to its participation in the government’s bank liquidity plan. Shares in National Bank rose 0.97 percent to 20.90 euros on the Athens bourse yesterday, versus a 0.43 percent advance on the broader market.