In Brief

OPAP chief to step down to take IMF position The chief executive of OPAP, Europe’s biggest gambling company, will step down to be appointed by Greece to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), government sources said yesterday. Greece’s outgoing conservative government, which has called snap elections next month, had appointed Christos Hadjiemmanuil as chairman and CEO at betting monopoly OPAP in October 2007. «The ministerial decision has been signed for Christos Hadjiemmanuil to be appointed to the IMF,» a government official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. Hadjiemmanuil, a lawyer, has served as a legal adviser to the IMF and was credited with restructuring OPAP and lobbying against opening up the gaming market in Greece. (Reuters) Bankers call for single Balkan stock market TIRANA (Reuters) – Several Balkan central bankers called yesterday for the region’s countries to unify their stock markets into a single exchange as a way of preparing for eventual European integration. «Taking into consideration how small all of these different countries are and how small the market capitalization is of all of these markets, it would definitely be a very good thing,» Serbian central bank chief Radovan Jelasic told Reuters in an interview. Several of the Balkan countries still far from joining the European Union have their own stock exchanges, including Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Albania, where investors were badly scarred by the pyramid scandals of the 1990s, is considering starting its own exchange. Jelasic spoke during a break at a conference of central bankers in the Albanian capital Tirana, where several other participants concurred with the idea. Serbian tender Serbia will delay a tender for the sale of Galenika Pharmaceuticals until a production facility is completed in January 2010, said Nebojsa Ciric, a state secretary at the Economy Ministry. «Over the next three months, potential partners will be allowed to visit the factory, look at tender documentation and meet company leadership and government officials,» Ciric said in a telephone interview yesterday. (Bloomberg) Cyprus exploration Cyprus expects that its program to search for oil and gas in its offshore territory will be fruitful in light of recent gas discoveries by neighboring Israel, Industry Minister Antonis Paschalides said. «Cyprus has relatively recently initiated its hydrocarbon exploration program and anticipates that it will have a similar success to that of Israel,» Paschalides said in a statement yesterday on the Cypriot Press Ministry’s website. The value of the Tamar gas field, off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, is $8 billion, almost double previous estimates of $4.5 billion, Israeli business daily Globes said on August 26. Cyprus plans to hold an offshore exploration rights tender by the end of the year. The exploration bidding round will be the second by the east Mediterranean island after one in 2007. Israel is one of the main sources of petroleum-product imports into Cyprus, Paschalides said. (Bloomberg) Albanian growth Albania’s central bank governor, Ardian Fullani, said he believed the worst of the economic crisis was over and said he saw signs that Albania could have positive growth of up to 2 percent in 2009. (Reuters)