In Brief

OPAP profits seen halved by tax to 60.5 mln euros Greek betting firm OPAP’s profits are expected to have been cut by more than half in the second quarter, hit by a windfall tax the government imposed on businesses to shore up its ailing finances. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast group net profits of 60.5 million euros ($77.50 million) on average against 155.5 million for the same period a year ago, a 61 percent drop year on year. They said a debt crisis levy the government imposed on 2009 corporate profits after it signed a 110-billion-euro bailout with the European Union and International Monetary Fund shaved 94 million euros off OPAP’s second-quarter earnings. Increased wagers on sports betting game Stoichima during the World Soccer Cup this summer more than offset lower gaming spending due to the economic downturn in Greece. Sales were seen up 5.8 percent to 1.37 billion euros, with revenues from Stoichima rising 22 percent, offsetting a weak performance by lottery Kino. In July, two OPAP sources said they expected players had placed sports bets of about 250 million euros during the June-July World Cup. OPAP is scheduled to report earnings on Thursday. (Reuters) Cypriot deficit narrows in second quarter of 2010 Cyprus’s general government deficit in the second quarter of 2010 was 258.7 million euros ($329.5 million) compared with 280 million euros in the respective quarter in 2009, the Cyprus Statistical Service said. Total revenues rose 2.7 percent to 1.66 billion euros, while total expenditures for the period increased 1.2 percent to 1.91 billion euros, the Nicosia-based service said in a statement posted on its website yesterday. (Bloomberg) Investments in Russia Russian foreign-direct investment fell an annual 11 percent to $5.4 billion in the first half, easing its decline after an 18 percent plunge in the first quarter. Overall foreign investment, including credits and flows into the securities markets, slid 5.5 percent to $30.4 billion, the Moscow-based Federal Statistics Service said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Russia’s vulnerability to the pace of the global economic recovery makes it «a less attractive investment proposition right now» than countries like Turkey, Chris Weafer, chief strategist at URALSIB Financial Corp said by e-mail. The world’s biggest energy supplier has been slow to recover from its worst contraction on record, lagging behind its peers in emerging markets. Gross domestic product (GDP) may expand more than 4 percent this year after contracting 7.9 percent last year, according to the Economy Ministry. Brazil has achieved the fastest economic growth in 15 years, while India’s government predicts GDP will expand this year at the quickest rate since 2008. Russia’s manufacturing industry received the largest amount of investment, attracting $10.9 billion, followed by the mining sector and wholesale and retail industry, according to the statistics service. Cyprus was the largest foreign investor in Russia, followed by the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany. (Bloomberg) Navios earnings Navios Maritime Holdings Inc’s quarterly results sailed past estimates after new acquisitions spurred revenues to their highest in six quarters but the Greek shipper signaled a cautious outlook. The company said growth in developed countries was sluggish, and the order backlog, which reflects the number of reserve ships waiting to be contracted in the market, was significant. Asia contributes about 54 percent to the company’s annual turnover, while Europe and North America represent 19 percent of the total, according to Thomson Reuters data. «The company continues to be well shielded against volatility in the dry-bulk market because of their long-term contracts,» Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Natasha Boyden said. The Baltic Exchange’s main sea-freight index, which gauges the cost of shipping commodities, including iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertilizer, has been erratic this year because of fluctuations in Chinese demand for iron ore. It has fallen about 44 percent since its June high of 3,988 points. (Reuters)