ECONOMY

In Brief

Emporiki Bank posts H1 losses of 535 mln euros Emporiki Bank, owned by French group Credit Agricole, yesterday announced a first-half net loss of 535.2 million euros ($699 million), a 49.1 percent widening in last year’s shortfall. The bank, Greece’s fifth largest, had posted a net loss of 359 million euros in the first half of 2009. Emporiki attributed the result to «additional high provisions and increased one-off costs related to the bank’s accelerated transformation.» It noted that it had sustained additional group losses of 325.9 million euros in the second quarter of 2010. The bank said its first-half net banking income had increased by 7.4 percent to 368.4 million euros, while gross operating income jumped by 71 percent to 39.9 million euros. «In the second quarter of 2010, Emporiki further improved its operating performance, as a result of an effective commercial policy and the successful cost-control measures that have been implemented,» the bank’s vice chairman and CEO, Alain Strub, said in a statement. (AFP) Tourism revenues to fall up to 9 percent in 2010 Crippling strikes and anti-austerity protests have pushed Greece’s tourism sector, employer of a fifth of the work force, deeper into recession this year, a deputy minister said, dashing hopes a recovery may help the country exit its debt crisis. After a 10 percent drop in 2009 due to the global crisis, revenues from the biggest earner for Greece’s embattled economy are expected to slide 7 to 9 percent this year, Deputy Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis told Reuters. Tourism accounts for about a fifth of Greece’s 240-billion-euro gross domestic product, which is expected to shrink 4 percent this year amid rising unemployment. Repeated strikes and anti-austerity protests that have often turned violent have hurt Greece, turning some holidaymakers away to rival destinations such as Turkey and Croatia. «Without these incidents, tourism would have certainly made it this year. Revenues would have been at least at last year’s level,» Nikitiadis said in an interview. «We have to restore the country’s image and change our strategy to win back visitors.» (Reuters) NBG bond issue National Bank of Greece (NBG) said yesterday it completed an issue of covered bonds totaling 1.5 billion euros. The bonds, secured by a cover pool of residential mortgages in euro and foreign currency originated by the bank, are part of the group’s 15-billion-euro covered bond program, established on June 22. The bonds are eligible collateral with the European Central Bank (ECB) for refinancing. With access to interbank wholesale funding closed because of the country’s debt crisis, Greek banks have turned to the ECB to satisfy liquidity needs. NBG said it issued second tranches for each of its first three series under the program, tapping each with an additional 500 million euros. (Reuters) Gas discovery British oil and gas explorer Melrose Resources said yesterday it made a new gas discovery at its Kavarna East No 1 well in Bulgaria. Melrose said the well encountered a net gas pay – which refers to the portion of an oil reservoir that contains economically producible oil – of 89 feet. (Reuters) Lukoil-Crobenz Russian oil company Lukoil won an approval from Croatia’s anti-trust agency to buy small fuel retailer Crobenz from national oil and gas group INA. The anti-trust agency AZTN confirmed yesterday it had given the green light for the sale to Lukoil, which is already present in Croatia but has a small market share. AZTN last year ordered INA to sell Crobenz, which owns 14 petrol stations in Croatia, after INA’s biggest shareholder, Hungary’s MOL, increased its stake to 47 percent. (Reuters) Turk trade deficit Turkey’s trade deficit rose 35 percent year-on-year to $5.62 billion in June, coming in below forecast but still reflecting strong domestic demand as the economy improves. The Turkish Statistics Institute said exports rose 14.8 percent to $9.567 billion and imports climbed 21.5 percent to $15.185 billion. (Reuters)