ECONOMY

In Brief

Merkel confident eurozone will weather debt crisis BERLIN (AP) – The 16-nation euro currency will survive the debt crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared yesterday, while insisting that investors must share the burden of bailouts starting in 2013. Merkel’s comments came as the euro wallowed near two-month lows against the dollar and some analysts predicted it would drop further as other heavily indebted countries, such as Portugal and Spain, risk following Greece and Ireland in needing a bailout. The euro was down 0.3 percent yesterday at $1.3297. «I’m more confident than [I was] this spring that the European Union will emerge strengthened from the current challenges,» Merkel told business leaders in Berlin, referring to May’s 110-billion-euro bailout of Greece by the EU and IMF. Experts say that while rescuing Greece, Ireland or Portugal is manageable for the EU’s 750-billion-euro ($1 trillion) emergency fund, bailing out Spain – which is five times larger than any of the other three countries – would test its limits and threaten the euro’s existence. Intesa Sanpaolo makes binding bid for Polbank Intesa Sanpaolo CEO Corrado Passera said the lender made a binding offer for Polbank and is awaiting a response from its parent company, Greece’s EFG Eurobank Ergasias. Passera, speaking to reporters in Rome, said a decision on the timing of the sale «depends on the seller.» The Milan-based bank’s bid is part of its plan to expand into Central and Eastern Europe to strengthen its business in countries where Italian companies are investing. Greece’s Eurobank, which is selling the unit to boost capital, received three bids, each worth between $600 million and $800 million, the Financial Times reported on November 12. Raiffeisen Bank International AG and BNP Paribas SA may be the other two banks interested in the unit, the FT said. BNP Paribas isn’t interested in Polbank, said a person with knowledge of the matter who declined to be identified. BNP Paribas, France’s biggest bank, became the largest lender by deposits in the euro region last year by buying Fortis assets that also included branches in Poland. Officials of Paris-based BNP Paribas and Raiffeisen, based in Vienna, declined to comment. Polbank may be worth 900 million euros to 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), Credit Suisse analyst Niall O’Connor wrote in a note on October 28. (Bloomberg) Nuclear power Bulgaria’s planned second nuclear plant at Belene will be profitable only if electricity exports are guaranteed, as an existing plant plus coal-fired and renewable-energy generators will cover domestic consumption. By 2020, Bulgaria will consume around 40 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, while output will reach 52 billion kilowatt-hours with Belene online, Dimcho Kanev, head of forecasts and research at state-run National Electricity Company, said at a conference yesterday. Belene «will be beneficial only if we have secured power purchase contracts with other countries,» he said. US power producer AES Corporation will start operations at a 670-megawatt coal-fired power plant next year and an 80-megawatt hydropower plant at Tsankov Kamak will start production in 2011, Kanev said. Apart from the Belene plant, Bulgaria will have 1,700 megawatts of installed wind power, 300 megawatts of solar and 100 megawatts of biomass generators by 2020, Kanev said. Construction of the 2,000-megawatt nuclear plant on the Danube has stalled since Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s government came to power 16 months ago and refused to provide state funding, prompting RWE AG, Germany’s second-largest utility, to withdraw. Atomstroyexport ZAO, a unit of Rosatom, was chosen in 2005 to build the plant, with Areva SA and Siemens AG as subcontractors. The government is seeking new investors. (Bloomberg) Telecom sale Serbia extended the deadline for possible bidders to buy tender documents in an ongoing sale of a 51 percent stake in Telekom Srbija AD to December 10, because of «great interest,» the Finance Ministry said in an e-mailed statement yesterday, a day before the original deadline. (Bloomberg)