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Bank of Cyprus among the world top banks March 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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The Bank of Cyprus has been declared as Cyprus’ best bank for a second consecutive time, in Global Finance’s World’s Best Developed Market Banks 2007 report.

According to a Bank of Cyprus’ press release, the winners were those banks that attended carefully to their customers’ needs and accomplished enviable results while laying the foundations of future success.

In securing the award for Cyprus, the Bank of Cyprus fulfilled criteria such as growth in assets, profitability, geographic reach, strategic relationships, new business development and innovation in products.

All selections were made by the editors of Global Finance, after extensive consultations with bankers, corporate financial executives and analysts throughout the world. Global Finance is a well-known magazine with 50,000 subscribers and more than 250,000 readers in over 158 countries.

Vivartia to bid for Everest March 8, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Food Greece.
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Vivartia, Greece’s largest food group, said yesterday it would tender for 100% of fast-food chain Everest as part of its 2008 expansion plans.

Everest, with a current market value of 87 million euros, runs a network of 184 fast-food stores in Greece, Cyprus and Romania. Vivartia said it would offer 3.50 euro per share for the fast-food company, a premium of about 15 percent to Thursday’s closing price.

Trading in Everest and Vivartia shares was suspended on Thursday and resumed yesterday. Alkmini, a company set up to bid for Everest, will also make a public offer to buy 100 percent of Olympic Catering, now majority-owned by Everest, for 2.65 euro per share.

Cyprus peace would carry hefty dividend March 7, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied.
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Cyprus’ economy would gain at least 1.8 billion euros ($2.75 billion) on an annual basis if there were a reunification deal on the ethnically partitioned island, economists said yesterday.

Economic benefits would come mainly from new business opportunities with Turkey, tourism revenue and construction, the survey sponsored by the Norway-based Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) said. “Translated into household income, the annual dividend per family comes to approximately 5,500 euros per year,” PRIO said in a news release yesterday. That represents 20 percent of the average income of Greek Cypriots, and 40 percent of Turkish Cypriots, it added.

Cyprus, an island of around 1 million people, was partitioned in a Turkish invasion in 1974. Greek Cypriots, who represent the island in the European Union, have no direct trade or diplomatic links with the Turkish-led statelet in the island’s Turkish occupied and military controlled north.

The southern areas of Cyprus controlled by the Greek-Cypriot government joined the eurozone on January 1, 2008. The northern part, a Turkish-Cypriot breakaway state recognized only by the government in Ankara, stayed out.

Economic disparities between the two sides are huge. Gross domestic product in the south was 15.5 billion in 2007, and approximately 2 billion in the north in 2006, according to the latest data available.

Economists from both sides of the divide based their projections on a seven-year game plan should a settlement be reached in 2009, and using Greco-Turkish trade relations, which have flourished in the past decade, as their reference point.

Greek and Turkish-Cypriot community leaders are expected to meet in the last fortnight of March to discuss how to resume peace talks. Reunification efforts collapsed in 2004 when Greek Cypriots rejected a UN settlement blueprint accepted by Turkish Cypriots.

PRIO is financed by the Norwegian Research Council, the United Nations and the World Bank.

Greek MIG buys Croatian tourism group March 7, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Tourism.
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Greek buyout firm Marfin Investment Group said it is taking a controlling stake in Croatian tourism group Sunce as part of its expansion plans.

MIG will pay 155 million euros ($237 million) for a 75 percent stake in Sunce, which operates 11 hotels along the Adriatic coast, has a majority stake in a local airport and owns 860,000 square meters of development land. “The Sunce acquisition is further testament to MIG’s regional reach and ability to source significantly value-accretive transactions for its shareholders,” MIG Executive Vice Chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos said in a statement.

Greece’s Vivartia to buy Nonni’s American biscuit firm March 7, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Food Greece.
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Vivartia, Greece’s largest food group, said yesterday it has signed a deal to buy US biscuit and snack-producer Nonni’s for $320 million as part of its expansion plans.

Vivartia, which is present in 30 countries, said it has agreed to buy 100 percent of Nonni’s from US private equity firm Wind Point Partners and Nonni’s board members in a deal expected to be completed by April 1. “The technical know-how offered by the company in combination with its broadened network and commercial potential make Nonni’s a suitable platform to expand in the USA,” Vivartia CEO Spyros Theodoropoulos said in a bourse filing.

Nonni’s offers six production units in the USA and reported 2007 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $32 million on sales of $187 million, Vivartia added.

Greece plans tax breaks to attract shipping firms March 7, 2008

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Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis has been informing London-based Greek shipping firms, which control about 20 percent of the Greek-backed commercial shipping fleet, on the benefits of relocating to Piraeus.

The government is putting together a series of incentives, which may include tax breaks, to draw leading shipping firms from around the world to Piraeus as Greek shipowners start to express interest in moving out of London.

Shipping is facing the possibility of a major shift, with some of the sector’s largest players considering a move away from the British capital in response to plans from authorities to introduce a new tax on foreign individuals.

Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, who met with Greek shipowners in the British capital last week, said yesterday Greece will aim to create a more favorable business environment in Piraeus.

«I explained there is institutional stability and we have decided to look at tax measures that can help,» the Minister told Skai Radio. «Steps that will allow people to come to Piraeus, not just Greeks from London but also shipowners of other nationalities.»

Talk of Greek family-owned shipping companies moving out of London has been sparked by plans from Britain’s Treasury to charge non-domiciled foreign residents with a new 30,000-pound (39,720-euro) tax. According to sources, about 30 companies have moved to Athens from London since 2000 due to concerns they would become liable for income tax on foreign earnings.

However, the question remains as to where these businesses may move after having been in London for a number of years. «We need to wait and see what the impact might be. There is already a lot of business being done in Piraeus,» said a senior bank source. About one-quarter of the global shipping business is currently done through Piraeus, which competes with Cyprus, Dubai, Singapore, New York and London in the maritime services industry.

Cyprus embarks on FDI campaign March 7, 2008

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Cyprus will embark on a campaign to lure more offshore companies to the island and bolster foreign investment, Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis said yesterday.

The main efforts will be directed toward Russia, Ukraine and India to renegotiate existing double-taxation treaties where businesses pay tax in just one jurisdiction, Stavrakis said.

“It is a very important sector which is exposed to competition from many countries. This sector brings in a lot of foreign exchange to an economy… (and) we face strong competition,” he told reporters after a meeting with representatives of business associations.

The island has 43 double taxation treaties with other jurisdictions and a 10 percent corporate tax rate. Thousands of foreign companies operate on the island.

“The international service supply sector is the most important sector of the economy at this moment,” the Finance Minister said. “Cyprus can indeed become the Singapore of the Middle East and a financial center of international standards that will bring both foreign exchange and jobs to Cyprus,” he said.

Stavrakis, a former banker appointed by newly elected communist President Dimitris Christofias, reaffirmed his government’s decision not to raise corporate taxes.

“The commitment of the government is that corporate tax rates will not increase. Cyprus will remain a state with low tax rates so that it can attract the best companies from Europe and the rest of the world,” he said.