ECONOMY

In Brief

IMF warns Sofia against changing pension system SOFIA (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund warned Bulgaria yesterday against plans to transfer certain private pension funds back to the state system, saying the move would not solve its fiscal woes. Bulgaria, hard hit by economic recession and facing a rapidly aging population, needs to overhaul its indebted pension system to avoid hefty deficits, which may put pressure on its lev currency peg to the euro. The center-right government is considering transferring about 500 million leva ($357 million) accumulated in private pension funds to a state fund in a move that analysts and business groups say will undermine fledgling financial markets and hit investor confidence. The privately run funds, covering about 230,000 workers in jobs classed as physically hard, including miners and truck drivers, were set up in 2000 but have faced years of government delays in starting payouts because accumulated finances have been inadequate. Stock exchange operator appoints new CEO Greece’s stock and futures markets operator Hellenic Exchanges named Socrates Lazaridis its new chief executive, the company said in a statement yesterday. «The board of directors appointed today Socrates Lazaridis as chief executive of Hellenic Exchanges and chairman of the Athens bourse to replace Spyros Capralos,» the statement said. Lazaridis, aged 48, has served as a general director at the operator since 2007. Capralos will step down at the end of October when his contract expires. (Reuters) Romania deal Romania is considering a new precautionary aid deal that would likely be worth much less than its current 20-billion-euro bailout and commit the government to speeding up its privatization program, an International Monetary Fund official said. Mihai Tanasescu, Romania’s IMF representative in Washington, told Reuters yesterday that talks had started on a fresh deal that would probably run for 18 to 24 months once the existing agreement expires in March. «Normally, it would be much smaller than the current aid deal,» Tanasescu said. «If things go in the right direction, the new agreement will be… finalized in early 2011, probably in January.» Romania’s rocky political landscape has overshadowed the latest IMF review of the aid deal, a key to maintaining investor confidence in the country, though investors expect the government to survive a no-confidence vote scheduled for today. (Reuters) Dinar low Serbia’s currency hit a record low against the euro at 107.2 dinars yesterday and dealers saw no sign of the central bank moving to intervene. The Serbian central bank has sold more than 2 billion euros this year to stem the slide and prevent excessive volatility in the exchange rate. «The volume of trading is satisfactory and the central bank may want to watch this for a day or two,» said a senior currency trader with a Belgrade-based commercial bank. The dinar, which has fallen 9.5 percent against the single currency since the start of 2010, hit a previous record low of 107 dinars in August. (Reuters) Albania Eurobond Albania has set price guidance at 7.5 percent on a debut sovereign bond worth 300-400 million euros, a lead manager of the deal said yesterday. The bond, rated B1 by Moody’s and B+ by Standard & Poor’s, had been put off since April, after the Greek debt crisis rattled markets. «The auction of the Eurobond has now started and is expected to finish at the end of this week,» Albania’s Finance Ministry announced. (Reuters) Turkey IPOs Turkey can expect around 15 major initial public offerings (IPOs) worth up to $15 billion in the 18 months starting from January 2011 if current market conditions prevail, the head of Garanti Securities told Reuters. Metin Ar, chief executive of Garanti Bank’s investment arm, said his firm was working on seven to eight IPOs, at least two of which were mandates from private equity, and aimed for stock offerings of at least 30 percent. (Reuters) Turk loan tax Ankara is raising a transaction tax on consumer loans back to the pre-crisis level of 15 percent, up from 10 percent now, Economy Minister Ali Babacan said yesterday. (Reuters)