ECONOMY

In Brief

Ministry pushes back DEPA, airport sale Greece has pushed back plans to sell stakes in its natural gas monopoly and its biggest airport this year, officials said yesterday, citing complications and adverse market conditions. This makes it more difficult for the Greek government to achieve a target of 1 billion euros ($1.41 billion) in state asset sales this year to reduce its public debt, the EU’s second-largest in terms of GDP after Italy’s. Officials said the government has given up hope of completing the sale of a stake in its gas monopoly DEPA to strategic investors this year, in part because of the complicated structure of the company’s assets. «It seems that the [DEPA] stake sale will not be completed in 2009 and moves to 2010,» a senior government official who declined to be named told Reuters. Weak financial markets and a tourism slump will also delay the envisaged initial public share offer for Athens International Airport, the country’s biggest and co-managed by Germany’s Hochtief AG. (Reuters) Cyprus tax revenues fall 11 percent in first half Tax revenue in Cyprus, the euro area’s second-smallest economy, fell 11 percent in the first half as locals and tourists bought fewer houses. Total tax receipts for January through June declined to 710.9 million euros ($1 billion) from 795.2 million euros a year earlier, the Cypriot Inland Revenue Department said yesterday in a statement on its website. Revenue from taxes on real estate sales slumped 81 percent to 37 million euros from 192.2 million euros. Property sale contracts fell by more than 58 percent in the period, according to the Cyprus Department of Lands and Surveys. Cyprus will record a budget shortfall of 3.9 percent of gross domestic product this year as the government spends more and receives less in the recession, the International Monetary Fund said June 29. The number of tourists, who boost the economy though holiday-home purchases, fell almost 11 percent in the first half, the Cyprus Statistics Service said yesterday. (Bloomberg) Serbian loan Serbia plans to borrow 90 million euros from three Greek banks, according to a draft law on borrowing due to be debated by parliament yesterday. The government will borrow 40 million euros from Piraeus Bank, 30 million from Alpha Bank and 20 million from Vojvodjanska Banka, part of the National Bank of Greece, via their operations in Serbia, the draft said. Serbia will repay the loans over five years, including a 12-month grace period, at a cost of 475 basis points over one-month EURIBOR plus one percent commission fee. A senior Finance Ministry source told Reuters on July 9 that Serbia would borrow 100 million euros. (Reuters) EYATH stake Investors interested in buying a 23 percent stake in EYATH, Greece’s second-biggest water utility, have to declare their interest by July 27, the government said yesterday. Greece seeks a strategic investor for EYATH as part of plans to raise 1 billion euros ($1.41 billion) from state asset sales this year to reduce public debt. The deadline for bidders to submit expressions of interest to privatization advisers National Bank and HSBC expires at 4 p.m. on July 27. (Reuters)