Business: Albania, UNMIK sign co-operation agreements

BUSINESSphoto.jpgTwo co-operation agreements were signed during UNMIK head Joachim Ruecker’s visit toTirana on Wednesday (October 17th). One calls for mutual assistance with electricity supplies if either Albania or Kosovo faces and energy crisis, while the other provides for building a new transmission line between Albania and Kosovo.

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The European Commission (EC) brought Greece before the European Court of Justice, seeking sanctions because of the country’s failure to recover 161m euros in state aid that was illegally granted to the Greek national flag carrier Olympic Airlines — formerly Olympic Airways — between 1998 and 2002. The EC is demanding a fine of 5.3m euros plus an extra 10,000 euros for each day that has passed since May 2005, when the court issued a decision on recovery of the illegal subsidies. The penalty could be further raised if Athens is found not to have made any endeavours towards recovery.

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Privredna Banka Zagreb, which is owned by the Italian Gruppo Banca Intesa, acquired a 67% stake in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) LT Gosposarska Banka. Earlier this year, Banca Intesa bought another BiH bank, UPI Banka.

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Gorenje, Europe’s leading European manufacturer of household appliances, opened a plant in Serbia for the production of refrigerators and freezers. The value of this greenfield investment is estimated at 20m euros. Gorenje’s factory employs 330 people and its output is expected to reach 50,000 units this year.

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The World Bank board endorsed an $8.5m grant to Kosovo for a project meant to attract investment in developing lignite mines and building additional capacity for thermal power generation. The funds will go towards strengthening government policies and legal and regulatory frameworks in the energy sector.

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Swedish-owned Swedmilk Macedonia announced it will invest 15m euros in the building of a new diary plant near Skopje. Construction works are to begin soon and will be completed in the spring of 2007. The future factory will have the capacity to process around 250 tonnes of milk daily and its products will be designated for the Macedonian, Kosovo and Albanian markets. A total of 100 new job openings are expected during the first phase.

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Citigroup Corp. sealed an agreement on Wednesday (October 17th) on the acquisition of a 20% stake in Turkey’s third largest bank, Akbank. The price of the deal is $3.1 billion. The local Sabanci Group will continue to control the Turkish bank as the majority stakeholder. Finalisation of the deal is expected within 2-3 months, depending on approval by shareholders and by Turkey’s legal authorities.

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