ECONOMY

In Brief

Bulgaria’s budget deficit narrows in August Bulgaria’s budget deficit narrowed in August to 105 million lev ($77.5 million) as new Prime Minister Boyko Borisov cut spending and shelved construction projects. The gap narrowed from 564 million lev, the Finance Ministry in Sofia said in an e-mail message today. Bulgaria is running a budget deficit for the first time in 11 years after the previous Socialist-led coalition government raised spending ahead of July 5 elections. The International Monetary Fund forecast a shortfall of 1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year, while Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said on August 31 he still hopes to achieve a balanced budget this year. Borisov’s government, which took office on July 27, cut spending by 7.5 percent and mothballed most infrastructure projects, pledging to plug loopholes in excise tax collection and curb contraband to boost revenue. Bulgaria, where per-capita GDP is 37 percent of the European Union average, has been hit by production cuts and layoffs as the economy contracted 4.8 percent in the second quarter. (Bloomberg) Alpha Bank plans to issue 3-year euro bond LONDON (Reuters) – Alpha Credit Group, an arm of Greece’s third-largest lender Alpha Bank, plans to issue a three-year senior benchmark euro bond, IFR reported yesterday. Guidance is at mid-swaps plus around 190 basis points, said IFR Markets, a Thomson Reuters online news and market analysis service. BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, LBBW and Royal Bank of Scotland have been named to manage the deal, the International Financing Review said. Alpha Bank, which is guaranteeing the issue, is rated BBB+ by Standard & Poor’s and A2 by Moody’s Investors Service. Romanian debt Romania hired Deutsche Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and HSBC Holdings to arrange its first international sale of bonds in more than a year as it seeks to finance a widening budget deficit. The government will sell between 500 million euros ($724 million) and 1.5 billion euros of euro-denominated bonds this year depending on market conditions, the Finance Ministry said in an e-mailed statement. The bonds will have a maturity of at least five years. «We’ll be ready to issue the bonds any time after we sign the papers with the managers and select legal consultants,» Treasury Chief Laurentiu Andrei said in an interview in Bucharest. (Bloomberg) Support needed The Nabucco natural gas pipeline, set to carry Caspian-region fuel to Europe, needs more political backing, according to Joschka Fischer, a political communication adviser to the 7.9-billion-euro ($11 billion) project. The 31-billion-cubic-meter Nabucco pipeline, intended to cut Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and avoid cutoffs in supply via Ukraine, has been delayed by a lack of commitments from customers, transit nations and suppliers. It also faces competition from rival projects led by Russia’s Gazprom. «Nabucco is ready to take off and the coming year will be decisive,» Fischer, a former German foreign minister, told a briefing in Brussels yesterday. «What we need now is full political backing. The stakes are extremely high.» (Bloomberg)