ECONOMY

In Brief

Coca-Cola Hellenic shows flat growth Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH), the world’s No 2 bottler of Coke drinks, is seen as posting almost flat comparable profit for last year, as pressure on soft drink demand offset cost-cutting efforts. The average forecast in a Reuters poll of seven banks and brokerages was for net profit of 429.5 million euros ($603 million), slightly up from 425 million for the same period a year ago. Including one-off items, CCH’s profit is seen at 398.5 million euros versus 227.6 million in 2008. A goodwill impairment charge of 189 million euros had burdened the 2008 figure. The global downturn has led to consumers slashing spending on soft drinks and prompted currency devaluations since the last quarter of 2008, hurting CCH’s business, particularly in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Poland, which account for about one-third of CCH’s total. But CCH’s move to cut expenses and streamline operations helped support profit last year. For the fourth quarter of 2009, analysts saw a profit of 20.1 million euros from 2.6 million in the same period in 2008, as cost savings and lower interest expenses helped. Last year’s sales volume remained weak, although the picture in established markets was brighter as some countries seemed to emerge from recession. (Reuters) BP Solar completes new project in northern Greece BP Solar, a subsidiary of BP that focuses on solar power, has completed the construction of a 1-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power plant in Kilkis, northern Greece, in one of the biggest projects of its type in the country, it said yesterday. The project was completed on behalf of SunEnergy in the third contract between the two companies in the region, added BP Solar in a statement. No financial details were disclosed. Building permits The number of building permits issued in Cyprus in the first 11 months of 2009 rose slightly, led by an increase of over 44 percent for nonresidential properties as developers anticipate greater demand as the world slowdown ends. The total number of permits issued, a leading indicator of future construction, rose 0.5 percent to 8,159, the Cyprus Statistical Service said yesterday in a statement on its website. Permits for homes fell 5.6 percent. The total value of the permits fell 2.2 percent to 2.59 billion euros ($3.6 billion) and the number of planned dwelling units covered by the permits fell 18 percent to 15,064. (Bloomberg) Solution expected Azerbaijan expects a solution will be found this year for the Nabucco natural-gas pipeline, the European Union’s largest cross-border infrastructure project. «The year 2010 should be the year of solution,» Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said in an interview in London on Friday. «We have an infrastructure to be connected to the Nabucco pipeline, we have gas that could fill these pipelines but we have yet to get an agreement on transit and tariffs.» The 7.9-billion-euro ($11 billion) Nabucco pipeline is intended to stretch more than 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) from Turkey to Austria to bring Caspian gas to Europe and reduce the region’s dependence on Russian fuel. (Bloomberg)