ECONOMY

In Brief

OPAP to upgrade game ahead of World Cup Greek state-run gambling monopoly OPAP, Europe’s biggest betting firm, will offer an upgraded version of its fixed-odds Stoichima game, the company’s CEO said yesterday. The new version of Stoichima, OPAP’s second-biggest money earner, is to be ready in time for the soccer World Cup in June, Yiannis Spanoudakis, the company’s newly appointed chief executive officer, told Reuters in an interview. «We will have an upgraded [Stoichima] product before the World Cup,» Spanoudakis said. Stoichima generated 1.46 billion euros ($2.05 billion) of sales in the first nine months of 2009. OPAP, 34 percent-owned by the state, has a national monopoly on sports betting and lotteries until 2020, but is facing stiff competition from foreign Internet bookmakers, even though online betting is illegal in Greece. Spanoudakis said he would focus on cutting costs and improving the company’s products in Greece rather than immediately considering any move to expand abroad. (Reuters) Spain to cut deficit to avoid punishment Spain pledged to slash the budget deficit by almost three-quarters by 2013 to bring it in line with European Union rules and avoid the punishment investors have meted out to Greece. The budget shortfall amounted to 11.4 percent of gross domestic product last year, Finance Minister Elena Salgado said today. That will fall to 3 percent in 2013, in line with EU rules, with most of the correction coming from the central government, Salgado said yesterday in Madrid at a press conference following the weekly Cabinet meeting. Spain, heading for a second year of economic contraction, is under scrutiny amid investor concern that, like Greece, it will struggle to pay its debt. The premium investors demand to hold Spanish debt rather than German equivalents has almost doubled in the past month. The worst recession in six decades turned Spain’s 2007 budget surplus into the third-biggest euro-region deficit after Greece and Ireland last year. Greece’s deficit was 12.7 percent and its national debt is set to reach 120 percent this year, almost twice Spain’s. (Bloomberg) Interest in Serbia Alapis Holdings SA told the Athens bourse in a filing yesterday it received documents for Serbia’s sale of Galenika Pharmaceuticals. A final decision on a nonbinding bid for the Serbian company will be made after an evaluation of the documents, Alapis said. (Bloomberg) Producer prices Greek producer prices rose 5 percent year-on-year in December, pushed higher by an increase in costs for energy compared to the same period last year, the National Statistical Service said yesterday. The 12-month average annual pace of producer price inflation contracted by 5.8 percent versus 6.5 percent in November. Greek consumer price inflation rose to 2.6 percent in December. (Reuters) Energy overhaul Romania’s centrist coalition government approved yesterday an overhaul of its electricity producers by incorporating them into two major state-run companies, Economy Minister Adriean Videanu said. (Reuters)