ECONOMY

In Brief

Greek companies look for growth in Middle East Greek companies will increasingly focus on growth in the Middle East and North Africa, rather than in Turkey and Balkan countries, the chief executive officer of the world’s second-biggest gambling services company said yesterday. «Emerging markets that are able to sustain growth even during the crisis are more important than ever,» Intralot SA CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos said at a conference yesterday in Athens. The trend over the past decade of Greek companies investing in nations such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey would halt, he said. Countries like Morocco and Egypt may expand around 5 percent this year. The 16 countries sharing the euro will shrink 4.8 percent this year and 0.3 percent next year, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday. Antonopoulos was at a meeting of business representatives and government officials at a conference on the Union for the Mediterranean, announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy last year. (Bloomberg) Construction activity down 26 percent in April Greek construction activity, measured by the number of new building permits, dropped 26.3 percent year-on-year in April after a 19.1 percent rise in March, statistics service data showed yesterday. Despite the pickup in March, building activity declined 13.5 percent in the first four months of the year, reflecting the slowdown in Greece’s economy. Greece may slide into its first recession since 1993 this year, according to European Commission and International Monetary Fund forecasts, which see gross domestic product contracting by between 0.9 and 2 percent. (Reuters) Cyprus cable Cyprus Telecommunications Authority, the east Mediterranean island’s state-run phone company, agreed to build a new undersea cable with Syria, to improve communications between the Middle Eastern country and Europe. Cyta and the Syrian Telecommunications Organization, known as STE, signed an initial agreement on the cable during a visit by Syrian Telecommunications and Technology Minister Imad Sabouni in Nicosia yesterday, according to an e-mailed statement from Cyta. The two also agreed to revise termination rates on international calls between the two countries and for the provision of international capacity to Europe. A study on the new cable linking the two countries, to be called Alasiya, will be completed in the next three months. (Bloomberg) Revenues fall Cyprus’s revenue from value-added tax fell 9.1 percent in the first half, as locals and tourists spent less on goods and services in the euro area’s second-smallest economy amid the global financial crisis. Total VAT receipts, which accounted for 76 percent of total indirect tax revenues in the six-month period, declined to 861.1 million euros ($1.2 billion) from 946.9 million euros a year earlier. (Bloomberg) Economy contracts Romania’s economy could contract by 5.7 percent this year, facing a «difficult recession,» on faltering exports and high interest rates, Moody’s Investors Service said yesterday. However, the European Union member state will avoid a collapse due to «relatively low private sector debt and less reliance on foreign trade,» Moody’s said in a credit opinion note. (Reuters)