ECONOMY

In Brief

Lack of Greek sailors raises costs for shipowners A lack of Greek officers and sailors is increasing costs for the country’s shipowners, who control the world’s second-largest fleet after China, PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd’s Greek unit said. Greek shipping companies prefer to employ Greek officers and are being forced to pay increased wages and benefits to retain them, PwC Greece said in a survey published on the company’s website. While Greek shipowners are able to source cheaper sailors from Eastern Europe and the Far East, multiethnic crews mean that officers now need to develop leadership and communication skills to handle people from different cultures with different work attitudes and beliefs, according to the study. As Greece’s shipping industry shows limited success in attracting new generations of domestic sailors, the management of diversity will be a criterion in the assessment of officers, the study, which covered 39,500 seafarers on 1,320 ships, said. The shipping companies should link crew assessment to pay and set measurable and realistic targets that arise from the business strategy of the companies, PwC said. Some companies are reluctant to implement such pay discussions, either because it’s not in their corporate culture or because officers don’t have the appropriate skills; the move is necessary as the high performance of crew members depends on a system with long-term development, PwC said. Shipping is the second-most important industry for the Greek economy after tourism, accounting for around 5 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, according to the Bank of Greece. (Bloomberg) Coca-Cola Hellenic plans to buy out Nigerian bottler LAGOS (Reuters) – Greek Coke bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH) plans to buy out the Nigerian Bottling Company and turn it into a wholly owned subsidiary, a filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange said yesterday. Shareholders in the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), which holds the Coca-Cola franchise in Africa’s most populous nation, will receive 43 naira ($0.28) per share under the deal. NBC would then apply to be delisted in Nigeria. Belgium rating Belgium had the outlook on its debt rating lowered to «negative» from «stable» at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services because the country’s political stalemate makes it vulnerable to rising borrowing costs. S&P may cut Belgium’s AA+ sovereign credit rating by one step within the next six months should the seven parties involved in government talks fail to form a government «soon,» the credit agency said in a statement yesterday. It may also cut the rating within two years should the next government fail to stabilize public debt and improve political cohesion. «Belgium’s current caretaker government may be ill-equipped to respond to shocks to public finances,» Marko Mrsnik, a credit analyst at S&P, said in the statement. «The federal government’s projected 2011 gross borrowing requirement of around 11 percent of GDP leaves it exposed to rising real interest rates.» Belgium has increasingly been compared with so-called peripheral nations such as Greece, Ireland and Spain as the leadership vacuum constrains efforts to cope with Europe’s third-biggest debt as a percentage of gross domestic product, after Greece and Italy. The country continues to operate under a caretaker government six months after inconclusive elections as Flemish- and French-speaking parties are still sparring over whether to grant more fiscal autonomy for the country’s regions. (Bloomberg) Dubai unit Bank of Cyprus plans to open a branch in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, it said yesterday. The banking unit will focus on providing wealth management and private banking services to its existing clientele and to new clients active in the Middle East, it said in a statement. On the local front, Bank of Cyprus opened 20 new branches in Greece this year, boosting its network to 185 stores, it said on Monday. The lender is also present in Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Australia, among other countries.