ECONOMY

In Brief

BTC to outsource fixed-line and mobile network operations SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s dominant telecoms operator BTC will outsource its fixed-line and mobile phone network operations to French-American group Alcatel-Lucent to cut costs, BTC said yesterday. BTC, controlled by US insurer AIG, did not disclose the value of the five-year deal under which it will outsource the network’s technical and operational management to Alcatel as of March 1. The company, operating under the brand name of Vivacom, said in a statement it will also transfer around 3,000 jobs, or almost half of its staff, to Alcatel under the deal and people would keep their current contracts and social benefits. «The selection of Alcatel-Lucent will enable Vivacom to lower its operating expenses and ensures that its customers will receive services of top quality,» said Andy Williams, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s services business. «This is the most important managed services contract we have signed in Eastern Europe,» he said. A source familiar with the deal said it will allow BTC to reduce its operational expenses by 20 percent a year. The telecoms firm merged its mobile and fixed-services businesses last year. It has a 12 percent share of the mobile market, where it competes with Telekom Austria’s Mobiltel and Greek OTE’s Globul. BTC controls 95 percent of the fixed-line services in Bulgaria. Ireland seen remaining ‘pretty insulated’ from Greek concerns Investors are «distinguishing very clearly» between Irish and Greek debt, an official at the Dublin-based National Treasury Management Agency said after selling bonds yesterday. Ireland auctioned 600 million euros ($818.9 million) of 4 percent bonds maturing in 2014 to yield an average of 3.033 percent, and 900 million euros of 4.5 percent securities due 2020 to yield 4.745 percent, the NTMA said. Both bonds were oversubscribed. Ireland should remain «pretty insulated» from concerns that Greece may struggle to pay its debts, Oliver Whelan, director of funding at the agency, said in an interview yesterday. (Bloomberg) Cyprus revenues Cyprus’s total revenue from direct taxation was almost unchanged in January even as corporate-tax revenue fell 28 percent, the Inland Revenue Department said. Revenue fell to 228.5 million euros ($312 million) from 229.3 million euros a year earlier, the Nicosia-based department said in a statement on its website yesterday. Corporate tax revenue dropped to 42.7 million euros, causing a 17-million-euro shortfall in public finances, according to the statement. The gap was offset by increases in income tax, in special contributions to a defense fund and in lesser tax categories such as stamps and duties. (Bloomberg) Bank earnings Romanian bank BRD, controlled by France’s Societe Generale, missed forecasts with its 2009 net profit hit by a higher provision for bad loans. Romania’s second-largest bank reported a 2009 net profit of 792 million lei ($262 million), missing an average estimate for a net profit of 896 million lei in a Reuters poll. It said net risk costs, or loan-loss provisions, rose 128 percent to 1.1 billion lei, but it expected to see an improvement this year, BRD CEO Guy Poupet told reporters. (Reuters)