ECONOMY

In Brief

Greek lenders look across the Aegean to make sales Greek banks have offered TC Ziraat Bankasi AS, Turkey’s biggest state-run bank, the opportunity to buy them, chief executive Can Akin Caglar said. The assets of the banks on offer were smaller than Ziraat’s assets, Caglar told reporters in Istanbul yesterday. «This is not a decision you can make very quickly,» he said. «The offer was made when we recently visited Greece with the Turkish prime minister.» Banks in Greece face rising loan losses and a potential contraction in lending, as the state implements budget cuts to ensure the flow of bailout funds and stem the crisis. Greece pledged to implement austerity measures of almost 14 percent of economic output in exchange for the funds. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the Greek capital of Athens two weeks ago with ministers and businessmen. Some Greek and Austrian banks are preparing to pull out of the Balkans, presenting a «good opportunity» for Ziraat as it seeks to expand beyond Turkey’s borders, Caglar said. (Bloomberg) Airport shows increase in passenger traffic Athens International Airport SA said passenger traffic increased 4.4 percent in the first four months of the year. The total was 4.4 million in the four months to April 30, up from 4.2 million in the year-earlier period, the company said in a statement on its website yesterday. International traffic increased 2.2 percent and domestic passengers rose 7.7 percent. Last month when airports in several European countries were closed due to the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, 8.3 percent fewer passengers passed through Greece’s biggest airport than in April 2009. International travelers fell to 1.3 million, 11 percent down on the year-earlier month, the statement said. Athens airport is majority-owned by the Greek state and managed by German construction company Hochtief AG. (Bloomberg) Fish demand Nireus Aquaculture, Greece’s largest fish-farming company, expects demand for its products to remain strong this year despite difficult economic conditions. «Demand for products from fish farming remains strong. At the same time, the price of sea bream has recovered solidly from last year’s lows,» said Aristides Belles, the Nireus chairman, in a statement. The company reported a rise in first-quarter profits, after tax and minorities, to 740,000 euros from 344,000 euros in the same period a year earlier. Sales were almost unchanged at 40.29 million euros, versus 40.25 million last year. Producer prices Greek producer prices rose 9.8 percent year-on-year in April, pushed higher by increased energy costs compared to the same period last year, the country’s statistics service said yesterday. Greek consumer price inflation accelerated to an annual 4.8 percent pace in April. «PPI inflation remains on an uptrend and this is due to the significant increase in the cost of oil products and, to a lesser extent, rising metallurgy costs as base metals prices recover,» said Nikos Magginas, economist at National Bank. «The uptrend is expected to continue but at a milder pace until the third quarter.» (Reuters) Intralot earnings Greek group Intralot, the world’s second-largest lottery systems provider, reported a 31.5 percent fall in first-quarter net profits, hurt by a less lucrative Turkish contract and recession in the Balkans. Net profits fell to 15 million euros ($18 million), in line with 15.5 million euros estimated in a Reuters poll. Intralot, which offers gaming platforms and operates sports betting and video lotto machines, said higher payouts in some countries, lower fees from its Turkish sports betting game and the increase of a gaming tax in Bulgaria hurt results. (Reuters) Greece committed Greece is fully committed to implementing the program agreed to with the European Union and International Monetary Fund and is not seeking to reopen issues, including pension reforms, an IMF spokeswoman said on Thursday. «The Greek authorities have reaffirmed that they remain fully committed to this program and have no intention of reopening issues, including pension reforms,» the spokeswoman said in an e-mail response to a Reuters question. (Reuters)