ECONOMY

In Brief

OTE dismisses talk of retirement plan Greece’s largest telecoms group OTE dismissed press reports of an imminent early retirement plan at its Greek fixed-line unit, with company officials saying no such move was planned this year. «We have no specific voluntary exit plan at this point,» a senior official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. OTE will look into an early retirement scheme but such action would be taken after this year, the official said. Greek press reports in recent weeks had speculated that OTE planned to offer early retirement to up to 3,000 staff in 2009. «There’s definitely no time to work out the details within 2009,» the official said. The former monopoly is struggling to check costs after fierce competition from alternative operators and slowing Balkan economies have dented its revenues. (Reuters) EBRD aims to participate in Nabucco gas finance The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) plans to be a «senior participant» in the financing of the Nabucco gas pipeline, part of the London-based bank’s investments to boost energy security in Europe. EBRD may lead a group of banks to finance as much as 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in the pipeline that will bring gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe, Riccardo Puliti, EBRD’s energy business group director, said in an interview in Budapest yesterday. The size of the bank’s involvement will depend on market conditions, he said. EBRD yesterday announced a 200-million-euro loan to MOL Nyrt to fund a gas storage facility in Hungary. Natural gas imports from Russia to Europe dropped in January after a price dispute between Russia and Ukraine, a key transit country, interrupted deliveries. (Bloomberg) Sometra Sometra SA, a Romanian metals company controlled by Athens-based metals and energy group Mytilineos Holdings SA, needs further gains in zinc prices before restarting its Copsa Mica zinc and lead smelter. Zinc has risen 31 percent since Sometra suspended output in January, cutting 820 jobs, while lead has climbed 40 percent. Mytilineos owns 93 percent of Sometra. «It can restart operations,» Nikolaos Kontos, group investor relations officer at Mytilineos, wrote in an e-mail yesterday in response to questions from Bloomberg News. «The timing of such a decision will depend on zinc prices stabilizing at higher levels.» (Bloomberg) Bulgarian c/a Bulgaria’s current account deficit fell to 1.69 billion euros ($2.35 billion) or 5 percent of annual gross domestic product in the January-April period, showing some easing in one of the Balkan state’s chief concerns in the global downturn. The deficit in the same period last year was 2.78 billion euros, or 8.1 percent of GDP, central bank data showed yesterday. Analysts expect the current account gap to drop to 15 percent of GDP this year, after surging to 26 percent for all of 2008, but warned it remains a serious risk due to falling foreign investment. They say the drop in foreign cash inflows was likely to be bigger than the shrinking of the current account shortfall and that may put pressure on the Balkan country’s currency board regime, which pegs the lev currency to the euro. (Reuters)