ECONOMY

In Brief

Investors returning to Eastern Europe after bank crisis Investors are returning to Eastern Europe a year after the region’s banking crisis triggered a global market sell-off, as concern Greece may be unable to fund itself bolsters countries with lower borrowing needs. Pacific Investment Management Co, manager of the world’s largest bond fund, said it added Polish debt holdings last week and HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest bank by market value, said Hungary’s stocks are a «buying opportunity.» Czech, Turkish and Russian bonds are poised to outperform because the countries will have about a third of the debt levels of Greece and Italy by 2011, according to Credit Agricole Cheuvreux, the brokerage unit of France’s largest bank by branches. Investors are seeking to attain the cheapest valuations in seven months for the MSCI EM Eastern Europe equity index relative to the MSCI World Index and the widest gap in bond yields over US Treasuries since December. (Bloomberg) Societe Generale may inject capital into Greek branch PARIS (Reuters) – Societe Generale expects results to recover in 2010 after posting weak fourth-quarter earnings that caused a new slump in its shares, only a month after the bank issued a profit warning. SocGen shares closed down 7.2 percent at 38.975 euros yesterday. Analysts said the lackluster results showed it had some way to go to catch up with stronger rivals, with JP Morgan analysts describing the bank as a «restructuring story.» France’s second-biggest listed bank has had to trim back much of its previously booming investment banking activities after a trading loss scandal, and has booked write-downs worse than many of its peers in the wake of the financial crisis. SocGen said yesterday it might also have to inject capital into its lossmaking Greek arm Geniki due to Greece’s current deficit problems. Euro solution A «sharp decline of the euro» may offer a solution to Greece’s fiscal crisis by helping nations manage their debt while also boosting income from exports for Germany and the Netherlands, BNP Paribas SA said. «Germany and the Netherlands are probably the only European countries which could afford» a bailout, «but it seems to be politically suicidal for both governments,» BNP analysts led by Hans-Guenter Redeker in London said in a research note yesterday. «It becomes increasingly clear that a sharp decline of the euro [compensating Germany and Holland via export profitability] could be part of a European solution.» (Bloomberg) Viking Hellas Viking Hellas Airlines has announced that it will launch flights from Athens to the Iraqi capital Baghdad from March 1. «Viking Hellas Airlines, part of Sweden’s Viking group, will launch flights to Baghdad on March 1 and to Sulaymaniya in Iraq from March 4,» the company’s commercial director Roger Gatt told AFP late Wednesday. The airline began flying to Arbil in northern Iraq on February 5, Gatt added. Flights to Baghdad will be available on Monday, with services to Sulaymaniya and Arbil on Thursday and Friday respectively, operated by Boeing 737-300 aircraft. Return fares will be around 360 euros ($500). (AFP)