ECONOMY

In Brief

S&P may cut Cyprus rating on fiscal concerns NICOSIA (Reuters) – Standard and Poor’s placed Cyprus on review for a possible downgrade yesterday, saying the A+ sovereign credit rating could be cut within three to four months if the government failed to act to improve its finances. Placement of the rating on CreditWatch negative followed a rejection by lawmakers of two tax reform bills, said S&P credit analyst Trevor Cullinan. He said he expected to resolve the CreditWatch status after parliament reconvenes in September and considers further measures to address growing economic pressures. «We query whether the government will be able to push through fiscal consolidation measures that are sufficient to address the significant deterioration in public finances,» S&P said in a news release. S&P’s last credit action on Cyprus was an upgrade in April 2008. Cyprus Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis, who had met with an assessment team from Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday, declined any immediate comment. Wind Hellas says debt standstill in effect CAIRO (Reuters) – Greek mobile operator Wind Hellas Group said yesterday enough senior creditors had approved its debt standstill agreement to put it into effect. Wind Hellas said on July 1 it had a standstill agreement from creditors to defer until November 5 debt payments of at least 17.5 million euros, plus other interest and hedge counterparty payments. The standstill, while approved by lending banks, still needed to get the green light from enough of the company’s senior creditors by July 20 to go forward. «As of the close of business on July 20, holders of 80.6 percent of the principal amount of the senior secured floating rate notes have acceded to the agreement, exceeding the required 75 percent threshold,» Wind Hellas said. Weather Investments, the holding company of Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, won a battle last year to keep control of Wind Hellas, beating off a rival restructuring deal from a group of subordinated bondholders. Under the deal, Weather, which has owned Wind Hellas since 2007, injected about 125 million euros into the company and restructured 3.2 billion euros in debt. But recession and austerity measures passed by the Greek government in exchange for a 110-billion-euro international bailout earlier this year hurt the telecommunications business, derailing Wind Hellas’s post-restructuring business plan. Stress tests Greece’s largest lender, National Bank, will pass European Union stress tests, its chairman told Reuters yesterday. «National Bank will have no problem with the stress tests. It will pass them,» Vassilis Rapanos said. The results of the so-called stress tests, which will assess how banks would fare if economic conditions worsened and sovereign debt holdings declined in value, are due on 91 European banks tomorrow. (Reuters) Bulgarian layoffs Bulgaria will push ahead with a planned overhaul of public administration and will cut 2,500 more jobs to reduce budget spending as the Balkan country battles recession, Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov said yesterday. (Reuters) Turk stocks Turkish stocks hit a record high at the close yesterday, with foreign capital inflows reinforced by global investor optimism, while bonds and the lira both strengthened. Favorable reports by major foreign banks on the prospects for the Turkish economy sent stocks higher, led by a buoyant banking sector ahead of the release of second-quarter results. (Reuters) Sofia-Nabucco The Bulgarian government approved yesterday an agreement to support the EU-backed Nabucco gas pipeline aimed at cutting Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. The pipeline, which aims to transport up to 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year from the Caspian Sea region to Europe, is expected to become operational at the end of 2014. (Reuters)