ECONOMY

In Brief

National plans buyback, covered bonds issue National Bank of Greece, the country’s largest lender, said yesterday it plans to sell treasury stock from September 15 to October 15 at a minimum price of 20 euros a share. The bank said its board approved on September 11 the sale of up to 515,199 treasury shares. Separately, the lender also plans to sell covered bonds in euros, according to Deutsche Bank, one of the banks hired to manage the sale. UniCredit Group will also manage the sale with National Bank of Greece, according to Deutsche Bank. The bonds will be issued under the bank’s 10-billion-euro global covered-bond program after investor meetings across Europe. Speculation on Wind Hellas’s next move Wind Hellas Telecommunications SA’s 355 million euros ($516 million) of 8.5 percent bonds rose for a seventh consecutive day on speculation the company will sell assets and restructure debt to avoid a default. Wind Hellas had about 32 million euros in cash at the end of June to meet interest payments of about 250 million euros, according to Standard & Poor’s, which cut the company to CC, two levels from default, on September 4. Hellas Telecommunications II Sarl, the holding company for Wind Hellas, must meet coupon payments of about 67 million euros on October 15, according to Fitch Ratings. Wind Hellas said last week it was in touch with potential investors with a view to selling assets, including shares of Wind Hellas and Hellas IV, and inter-company debt. The company also said it is in talks with Weather Investments SpA, the investment vehicle used by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, the controlling shareholder. «It’s clearly considering every possible option to raise cash and has to do it as quickly as possible,» said Jonathan Moore, an analyst at Evolution Securities Ltd in London. «It has large interest expenses, no free cash flow and is running out of liquidity. A default would cost it a lot of negotiating power in a restructuring.» (Bloomberg) Italian debt Italian 10-year government bond futures fell early on their debut yesterday, underperforming the benchmark German Bund future in trade thinned by investor caution over how interest in the new product will shape up. The contract, launched on the Eurex Derivatives exchange, is aimed at providing bond investors greater flexibility in hedging their exposure to non-German «peripheral» eurozone government bonds. An hour after the launch fewer than 400 lots had changed hands – the established, much deeper more liquid Bund future market had seen around 40,000 trades – but this was to be expected, analysts said. (Reuters) Old cars Turkey’s Finance Ministry is working on cash incentives for car buyers who scrap older cars when buying new models, a government spokesman said. Turkey may offer incentives to buyers who scrap cars of 10 years or older, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity as the government hasn’t made a decision yet. Bigger incentives may be offered for scrap cars of 15 and 20 years or older, he said. (Bloomberg)