ECONOMY

In Brief

OPAP mulls online betting expansion Europe’s biggest betting firm OPAP is looking into online betting operations outside its home market of Greece to fend off competitors and ensure future growth, the company’s chief executive said yesterday. OPAP has a monopoly on sports betting games and lotteries in Greece until 2020 but is facing stiff competition from foreign online bookmakers who offer higher odds, despite online betting being illegal in the country. «We are exploring possibilities for radical improvement of our technical online capacity… as well as teaming up with an [online betting] operator who already has a brand, a network and existing customers in new markets,» CEO Christos Hadjiemmanuil told Reuters in an interview. Hadjiemmanuil said the company was talking to a few different operators. He declined to give further details but said that OPAP was interested in expanding in continental Europe and that it could done either through an acquisition or through OPAP’s Cyprus-based expansion arm, OPAP International Ltd. (Reuters) PPC still in race for Montenegro EPCG PODGORICA (Reuters) – Norway’s Nord-Troendelag Elektrisitetsverk and Russia’s Inter RAO have dropped out of the race for Montenegro’s power monopoly, Deputy Prime Minister Vujica Lazovic said late on Tuesday. «Italy’s A2A and Greece’s [Public Power Corporation] remain in the final of a tender and their bids will be opened on July 24,» Lazovic told state television in an interview. «I expect that between 200 million and 300 million euros will arrive in Montenegro based on this transaction.» Greece’s PPC has bid along with GoldenEnergy One Holdings, a unit of Greek shipping group Restis. Serbia recession Serbia’s economy will shrink by 3.5 to 5 percent by year-end and the government plans further domestic borrowing to finance a budget hit by falling revenues, the finance minister was quoted as saying yesterday. «By the end of the year [gross domestic product] will drop [by] between 3.5 and 5 percent, but it’s too early to be overly optimistic,» Diana Dragutinovic told the state-run Tanjug news agency. Serbia’s economy shrank by 3.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009, according to official statistics, not by the 5-7 percent the central bank had forecast. (Reuters) Romania-Nabucco Romanian President Traian Basescu said yesterday he was optimistic about Turkmen gas supplies for the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline, a project intended to ease Europe’s energy dependence on Russia. «Turkmenistan’s position on energy security issues makes Romania optimistic on the prospects of [Turkmenistan’s] participation in the Nabucco project,» Basescu said at a meeting with Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov on his visit to the Central Asian nation. (Reuters) Kosovo debt Kosovo will start servicing its 381-million-euro debt to the World Bank starting in September, a government official said yesterday. Kosovo officially won the World Bank membership last month and is waiting parliamentary approval of an agreement already signed in Washington. (Reuters)