In Brief

Cyprus VAT revenues drop off 10.7 percent Cyprus’s revenue from value-added tax fell 10.7 percent in the January-August period as a slump in overseas visitors and rising unemployment cut spending in the euro area’s second-smallest economy. Total VAT receipts, which accounted for the bulk of total indirect tax revenue in the eight-month period, fell to 1.08 billion euros ($1.58 billion) from 1.21 billion euros a year earlier, the Cypriot Department of Customs and Excise said yesterday in a statement on its website. For August alone, VAT revenue declined an annual 14 percent to 99.5 million euros. Total customs, excise and VAT revenue for the period fell 9.8 percent to 1.48 billion euros, according to the statement. The number of tourists holidaying on the east Mediterranean island dropped 10.9 percent in the eight-month period, the Cyprus Statistics Service said yesterday. (Bloomberg) National Bank looking at jumbo covered bond Greece’s largest lender National Bank is looking at launching a large covered bond issue, its chief financial officer said yesterday. «NBG is examining the possibility of issuing a jumbo covered bond in the near future,» Anthimos Thomopoulos told Reuters. «The exact size is to be determined,» he said without providing further details. NBG has in place a 10-billion-euro ($14.6 billion) covered bond program initiated in November last year, with mortgage loans as the cover pool. It has already issued 2.0 billion euros, retained by the bank for repo purposes with the European Central Bank. (Reuters) Spreads The difference in yield, or spread, between so-called peripheral and core European government bonds will fall next year as most of the region’s debt sales come from Germany and France, according to Commerzbank AG. While European governments will issue more than 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) of debt in 2010, a record, «supply from peripheral issuers should stabilize,» said Marcel Bross, a fixed-income strategist at the bank, Germany’s second largest. (Bloomberg) Marfin Popular Cyprus-based lender Marfin Popular Bank plans to issue a senior benchmark euro bond, IFR reported yesterday. BNP Paribas, DZ Bank, Lloyds, Morgan Stanley and UniCredit (HVB) will manage the deal, said IFR Markets, a Thomson Reuters online news and market analysis service. Marfin Popular is rated A3 by Moody’s Investors Service and BBB+ by Fitch Ratings. (Reuters) Fortescue Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, Australia’s third-largest iron ore exporter, settled a dispute over a shipping contract with Angelicoussis Shipping Group. Angelicoussis will stop legal proceedings, Perth-based Fortescue said yesterday in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange. Fortescue will make a one-off payment of $5.25 million and restructure its future cargo obligations with Angelicoussis, it said. Greek shipping billionaire John Angelicoussis sued Fortescue for $130 million in December, according to a December 11 filing in a US federal court in New York. Ship-rental rates plunged by a record 92 percent last year. Fortescue said in February it may record a total loss of $171 million on disputes over 10 shipping contracts. (Bloomberg)