ECONOMY

In Brief

Albania plans to make Eurobond market debut TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania plans to issue a debut Eurobond of 300 million euros to finance part of an expensive syndicated commercial loan it took last year and fund other projects, a Finance Ministry official said yesterday. Albania has been trying unsuccessfully to finance its budget with Eurobonds for four years because it believes this will establish it on the international debt market, ease the pressure from its local banks and help the exchange rate. «There is a lot of interest for our Eurobond. Banks will be seeing Finance Minister Ridvan Bode in back-to-back meetings next week over this,» the official told Reuters on a no-name basis, respecting Bode’s right to talk first about the issue. «Around 193 million euros will go to repay the current syndicated loan while 100 million will be used to finance the budget and capital expenditure,» the official said. Last year it canceled plans because prices in the Eurobond market were high and took instead a 192.8-million-euro syndicated loan from around 20 banks that was managed by Deutsche Bank and Greece’s Alpha Bank. PPC to unveil strategy at end of spring Public Power Corp (PPC), Greece’s biggest utility, will unveil by the end of spring its strategy to become a domestic market leader in renewable energy and cut its huge carbon costs, its new chief executive said yesterday. CEO Arthouros Zervos, who was appointed to run the state-controlled company last month, has pledged to boost renewable energy units and cut carbon emission costs, estimated to reach an annual 1.3 billion euros ($1.88 billion) in 2013. Speaking at a PPC labor union conference, Zervos also pledged to hire new staff, beginning with 2,300 positions which were advertised three years ago but remain unfilled. «We will soon start registering all our units’ needs for new hirings,» he said. About 24,000 people work for PPC, which is one of the country’s biggest employers. Greece’s Socialist government has no plans to privatize the company, the CEO said. «Fifty-one percent of PPC will remain in state hands – this is not negotiable.» (Reuters) Power consolidation Romania is readying a controversial plan to consolidate local electricity producers into two state-run energy companies, a proposal officials say will boost output and turn the country into a power exporter. While the centrist coalition government predicts the plan, to be approved at a cabinet meeting in coming weeks, will lead to lower energy costs, critics say the proposal lacks details and question whether prices really will fall. «At present you have unbalanced companies… so I understand why they want to change,» said Michael LaBelle, an independent energy expert based in Budapest. «But to have only two big holding companies that are still dominant players on the Romanian market causes a lot of concern that… the end result is not really going to be more competition and lead to sustainable lower prices.» Restructuring has been repeatedly postponed in recent years as successive governments have struggled to define their sell-off goals, facing labor and political pressures. Meanwhile, Romania urgently needs to upgrade its coal-fired power and heating plants to meet stringent EU environmental standards or risk hefty fines and even closure. Other units need retrofitting to make them more efficient. (Reuters)