ECONOMY

In Brief

Serbia, Gazprom sign South Stream agreement BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbian gas monopoly Srbijagas and Russia’s Gazprom signed a deal yesterday formally creating a joint venture to manage a major underground gas storage unit as part of the future South Stream pipeline. Under provisions of the deal, Srbijagas will have a 49 percent stake in the joint venture in the northern town of Banatski Dvor. Gazprom will hold the remainder, said Dusan Bajatovic, Srbijagas’s CEO. «The new company will be formally registered in Serbia on February 8,» he said. By the end of 2010, the Banatski Dvor storage unit will be filled with 470 million cubic meters of gas which is sufficient to cover Serbia’s needs, Bajatovic said. The storage unit will be a part of a wider Gazprom-led South Stream pipeline project that has been designed to bypass Ukraine to transport Russian gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and onward to Serbia and Europe. Romania keeps inflation goals, ups 2010 forecast BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s central bank upped its inflation forecast for 2010 yesterday, citing rises in cigarette costs, but kept its targets for this year and next unchanged. Risks to the inflation outlook have dimmed, Governor Mugur Isarescu said, after Romania passed a strict 2010 budget that prompted the International Monetary Fund to unlock the European Union state’s 20-billion-euro aid deal last month. A recent hike in excise taxes levied on cigarettes will likely lead to a jump in price growth last month and drive inflation to 3.5 percent by end-2010, a sharp rise from the previous 2.6 percent forecast, he said. «We’ll also get a negative impact from cigarettes in January. We will have a pretty big inflation rate in January and this will influence the end-year figure,» Isarescu told a news conference to present the quarterly inflation report. Montenegro cable Montenegro and Italy will sign a 700-million-euro deal today that will lead to the construction of a high-voltage cable between the two Adriatic countries, a top Montenegrin official said yesterday. The underwater power cable, part of a wider Italian investors’ plan to invest up to 5 billion euros in energy projects and infrastructure in Montenegro, is meant to alleviate electricity shortages in both countries. (Reuters) IMF-Turkey Bankers are divided over whether crisis veteran Turkey will eventually sign a new stand-by accord with the International Monetary Fund after stop-start talks lasting 21 months, a Reuters poll showed yesterday. Half of the 134 bankers surveyed still hope Turkey will sign a loan deal with the global lender to anchor its fiscal policy, reduce its government debt roll-over ratio, and help shore up economic growth. The other half of the international and local bankers polled believe talks will not yield a deal. (Reuters) Deal in jeopardy A Croatian construction consortium risks losing a highway building job worth close to 3 billion euros in neighboring Montenegro unless it quickly secures financial guarantees, its representative said. Other bidders for the tender included an Israeli-Greek consortium. (Reuters)