ECONOMY

In Brief

NBG says shareholders scoop up rights issue National Bank of Greece, the country’s biggest lender, said yesterday shareholders subscribed to buy all the new stock offered in a 1.25-billion-euro rights issue. The issue was oversubscribed 2.25 times, NBG said in a bourse filing. The fresh capital will allow NBG to take advantage of growth opportunities in Southeast Europe and to pre-empt moves by other European peers who are also raising cash. NBG will issue two new shares for every nine held, at a price of 11.30 euros each. NBG operates in Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Albania, Cyprus, Egypt and Turkey. Exposure to Southeast Europe’s shrinking economies has hurt investor confidence in Greek banks, which were quick to expand in the region after the fall of communism. (Reuters) Turkey tourism income to fall 10-15 percent ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s tourism receipts will likely fall 10-15 percent this year as financial woes hit tourists’ budgets, even though the number of foreign visitors should stay constant, an industry official said. Tourism is a key source of foreign currency to the Turkish economy and much of Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts are dependant on the sector, which saw receipts rise 18.5 percent in 2008 to $22 billion, or 3 percent of gross domestic product. New data from the Tourism Ministry yesterday showed the number of foreign visitors to Turkey fell 1.29 percent year-on-year in June, while, in the first six months of the year, it fell 0.9 percent to 10.6 million. Cyprus loan sharks EU member Cyprus plans to legislate against usury after an apparent spike in cases of people struggling with costly debt from loan sharks during the financial downturn. Although there is no hard data, lawmakers debating the issue yesterday said the practice was on the rise. Cyprus does not regulate debt between individuals, leaving many exposed in a legal vacuum. «People have a tendency not to talk about it or report it to police, but we know it happens,» said Yiannakis Charalambous, a senior officer on the Cypriot police force. (Reuters) Bulgaria debt Bulgaria’s foreign debt growth slowed to 14.6 percent on an annual basis at the end of May from a 42.8 percent rise in the same period a year ago due to the tighter global liquidity, central bank data showed yesterday. The emerging economy’s gross foreign debt stood at 36.6 billion euros and equaled 107.9 percent of gross domestic product at end-May. It remained virtually flat on the month and dropped 0.4 percent when compared to the end of 2008. (Reuters) Kosovo-IMF Kosovo’s parliament unanimously approved yesterday the country’s membership in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, paving the way for the repayment of foreign debt and new borrowing from the two lenders. «The membership will create a possibility for a real start of our country’s economic development,» Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told parliament. Following parliamentary approval, the government plans to start repaying a 381-million-euro loan to the World Bank in September. (Reuters)