In Brief

Bulgaria looking to woo Chinese and Koreans SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria will try to woo Chinese and Korean investors to secure much-needed foreign funds and help the emerging economy exit a deepening recession, a government official said yesterday. The global economic downturn has hit hard the poorest European Union member country, which benefited from investment in real estate and financial services in the past decade. Stoyan Stalev, head of the state investment promotion agency, said he expected foreign direct investment to have fallen over 50 percent in 2009 to about 3 billion euros ($4.36 billion), but would show a moderate growth of about 10 percent this year following an economic recovery in Western Europe. He told Reuters that Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007, planned an advertising campaign in Asia to promote itself as an investment destination and a gateway to the 27-nation bloc. «We will seek a better position in the regions with high growth rates. Korea has a growth rate of 4 percent [and] China 8 [percent]. We expect serious investments from there,» Stalev said. China’s largest sports utility vehicle maker, Great Wall Motor Co, has already started the construction of a plant to assemble cars under its badge in the northern town of Lovech. «If that investment goes through as planned, it will be a huge success, because car manufacturing is a very important factor for the whole economy,» he said. Eight lenders finance loan for offshore rig CAIRO (Reuters) – Eight banks are financing a $250 million syndicated loan to Egyptian Drilling Company (EDC) to purchase an offshore rig, Egypt’s Commercial International Bank (CIB) said yesterday. CIB, Egypt’s biggest private bank by assets, will finance $50 million of the seven-year loan, making it the largest financer along with state-owned Banque du Caire. EDC, which is 50 percent-controlled by Egypt’s state-owned Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), did not specify in which country the new rig would be placed. Essam El Wakil, CIB’s chief executive officer for institutional banking, did not disclose interest rate terms on the loan, but said they were «well priced and within market rates.» The others banks involved are National Societe Generale Bank, Credit Agricole Bank of Egypt, Bank of Alexandria, National Bank of Greece, Export Development Bank of Egypt and Egyptian Saudi Finance Bank. Supermarket sales Delhaize Group SA, owner of the Food Lion supermarkets in the US, reported revenue fell for the first time in five quarters on declining food prices, a weaker dollar and an extra week of sales for its US stores in 2008. Fourth-quarter sales fell 10 percent to 4.87 billion euros ($7.06 billion), the Brussels-based company said in a statement yesterday. That missed the 4.95 billion-euro average of 16 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales at US stores open at least a year fell 2.8 percent, the most in at least seven years. Delhaize forecast record 2010 capital spending of 800 million euros as it plans to accelerate store openings in the US and emerging markets to revive sales growth eroded by food deflation. (Bloomberg)

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