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NEWS IN BRIEF

Hanescu wins in Brazil


Romanian tennis player Victor Hanescu has qualified for the last-16 stage of the ATP tournament in Costa do Sauipe (Brazil) after defeating Brazil’s Joao Souza in the first round. Hanescu, 44th in the ATP standings and the tournament’s top seed 5, won the game after almost two hours, score 7-6, 6-4. In the last-16 stage he will play against Brazil’s Ricardo Mello. The latter defeated Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi in the first round, score 6-2, 7-5. The tournament in Costa do Sauipe offers total prizes of USD 442,500.


Sorana Cirstea
eliminated in Paris



Sorana Cirstea was defeated by America’s Melanie Oudin in the first round of the tournament in Paris after only 53 minutes, score 6-3, 6-0. Sorana has won 1 WTA point and USD 4,800 for her result in the Paris tournament (total prizes of USD 700,000). ‘I played very well today and I am happy for that. I served well, it was a good game. I hope I will advance as much as possible in this tournament,’ Melanie Oudin stated immediately after her game against Sorana.


Tamas’ team tops
second league



West Bromwich Albion, Romanian football player Gabriel Tamas’s team, has moved on top of England’s second league table after winning its home-side game against Scunthorpe United in leg 30, score 2-0. The goals were scored by Roman Bednar (13th minute) and Gianni Zuiverloon (86th minute). West Bromwich took advantage of the fact that Newcastle lost its away game against Derby, score 0-3. West Bromwich tops the standings, followed by Newcastle (59 points in 29 games), Nottingham Forest (55 points in 30 games) and Cardiff (48 points in 29 games).

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Runaway patient dies
in ambulance



A man who ran Tuesday night from the Leamna Hospital for Lung Diseases, Dolj County, died in the ambulance shortly after passers-by found him in a ditch near the hospital. According to Commissary Adrian Capraru of the Dolj County Police, the man aged 47 – an inhabitant of the Cosoveni commune – was found in a ditch near the Leamna Hospital by several pedestrians, who dialed 112 and reported the case to the Dolj Ambulance Service. The Dolj Police official explained that the man was a patient of the Leamna Hospital, suffering with tuberculosis, and he ran away Tuesday night. The medics of SMURD found him collapsed in the ditch, nearing death, and he passed out in the ambulance, en route to the Craiova County Emergency Hospital. Sources close to the investigation unveiled that, apparently, the man entered a hypothermic shock induced by extreme cold.


Four Athens-Otopeni and one Bucharest-Thessaloniki flights cancelled


Four Athens-Otopeni and one Bucharest-Thessaloniki flights were cancelled yesterday because of the strike of the air traffic controllers. According to Otopeni Airport representative, Mihaela Chirila, quoted by Mediafax, two Olympic Airlines flights, on Athens-Otopeni route and back (four flights), other two Aegean flights also from Athens, and a Tarom flight that had to go to Thessaloniki were cancelled. Otopeni Airport representatives had been announced from Tuesday that the flights to and from Greece would be cancelled, Chiril stressed.


Teacher reported
to Police after allegedly breaking student’s arm



An Arad teacher of Romanian language was reported to the Police yesterday, after allegedly punching and breaking the arm of a girl in the 6th class. The victim was taken to hospital after the incident. The incident was reported by the girl’s mother. The victim is a student in the 6th class at School No. 2 in Arad, Mediafax reports. The mother claims her daughter was physically assaulted by her teacher of Romanian, Nutica Craciun, on Monday afternoon. The student was allegedly punched in the face and pushed by the teacher who was annoyed by the fact that she was not quiet during her class. The girl then presented to hospital with an arm fracture.


Andrei Gheorghe – victim of police harassment?


Police withdrew Andrei Gheorghe’s driving license further to the light accident in which he was involved on Tuesday evening. According to Christian Ciocan, spokesman of Bucharest Police, quoted by Mediafax, officers withdrew Gheorghe’s driving licence, giving him in exchange a certificate over an indefinite period. The reason was Andrei Gheorghe’s refusal to go to INML to be taken biological samples. Tuesday evening, Andrei Gheorghe was involved in a light accident in Piata Presei Libere area. He hit in the back a car which had stopped at the traffic light. According to his own declarations, the communication adviser from the Finance Ministry made an exchange of contact data with the driver of the other car. But, the latter declared for ‘Jurnalul National’ that Andrei Gheorghe had allegedly tried to leave the place of the accident, although in his car there was a woman who complained of strong neck pains.


However, the police procedures raise some questions. No complain has been submitted to the police, but Andrei Gheorghe was heard by police for several hours yesterday and Tuesday evening up to one o’clock in the morning. He risks penal file just for the fact that the woman in the hit car complains of neck pains. No paper has been issued by the health authorities in this regard. All these raise questions concerning the police procedures.

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Peugeot Citroen seeks return on profit


French auto manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroen has reported losses of EUR 1.16 bln in 2009, a figure three times higher than the one registered in 2008, despite the cash for clunkers programs implemented in various states, Mediafax informs. Last year Peugeot Citroen had a turnover of EUR 48.4 bln, down by approximately 11 per cent compared to 2008. According to the group’s financial report for 2009, the sales dropped by 2.2 per cent to 3,188,000 units on a market that dropped by 3.1 per cent. The auto manufacturer points out that it seeks to return on profit at operational level in the first half of this year. PSA Peugeot Citroen anticipates that in 2010 the auto market will drop by 9 per cent.


Honda recalls
another 438,000 cars
for airbag risk



Honda Motor Co said it would recall another 438,000 cars globally to replace an airbag deflator that could rupture and send shards towards the driver in an accident. The move follows a separate recall of 646,000 cars less than two weeks ago for a faulty window switch that engulfed a Jazz subcompact in flames in South Africa, killing a child. Japan’s No.2 automaker had previously filed recalls for the airbag problem on two separate occasions, in November 2008 and June 2009, covering a total 510,000 vehicles. Ongoing investigation had determined the defect was caused by insufficient stamping pressure during the production of the inflator propellant and not by excessive moisture intake by the propellant as previously believed, Honda said.

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Cost of consolidating part of the Danube-Black Sea Canal – RON 1.34 M


The Administration of Navigable Canals (ACN) Constanta will hold a tendering procedure for the consolidation of the right-hand side of the Danube-Black Sea Canal that has been affected by landslides, the estimated contract value being RON 1.34 M plus VAT. The work will need to be done along a distance of 300 metres, from Km 30 to Km 30 + 500, and is deemed to take nine months, according to a press release by ACN Constanta. The contract will be financed from the state budget and from the administration’s own sources and the awarding criterion will be 40 per cent the price, 30 per cent the quality programmes and ten per cent the duration of the work, the warranty and the intervention time in case of emergency during the period of warranty. Interested contractors may submit tenders until March 5.


Another four malls this year


A total of four malls will be inaugurated in Romania this year. One of them will open in a matter of weeks in Bucharest, Antena 3 informs. It remains to be seen how many companies will rent spaces since stores have started to shut down because of far too high rents and low sales. Although there are already many malls, the rents are not dropping, with many spaces remaining vacant. There are already three malls on a distance of only five kilometers in south-west Bucharest alone.


Gazprom Vice-president to Bucharest on February 17


Aleksandr Medvedev, vice president Gazprom, comes to Bucharest on February 17, after he rescheduled last month his visit to Romania, the minister of economy, Adriean Videanu, announced. Romgaz and Gazprom officials will discuss about the construction of the gas depot from Margineni and investments in the production of electricity. The officials will also discuss about the South Stream project. Aleksandr Medvedev has recently declared that it is time for Romania to clarify its intentions regarding the project of the gas pipe especially that it has a strategic position, and the negotiations with Bulgaria have not yet been finalized.


Romania could have bought Serbian half of Iron Gates


In 2008 Romania had the chance to own the entire Iron Gates hydropower plant, the largest hydropower plant in the country, Money Channel TV informs. Serbia was experiencing a profound economic crisis and badly needed liquidities. Thus, Romania could have owned one more hydropower plant with an installed power of 1,300 MW, a hydropower plant that produces the cheapest electricity in the country. The offer could still stand but nobody in the Government bothers to look into the matter. Because the Western companies were not in a hurry to invest in Serbia, the latter turned to Romania. Teodor Atanasiu, former president of AVAS, states that the Romanian side could have paid exclusively in cash or a part in cash plus free energy for a limited period of up to five years. The Serbs however would have preferred the cash option. ‘Some talks have to remain confidential because some things could still be done,’ Corneliu Stan, former director of Electrica, stated. Dan Ioan Popescu, former Minister of Industry and Resources, has evaluated the Romanian half of the Iron Gates hydropower plant at more than EUR 500 M.


VAT might go up 1-2 pc this year


The Value Added Tax (VAT) might rise this year by 1 to 2 per cent, financial consultants say, bringing the tax to 20-21 per cent. While the measure will increase state budget revenues, it could also bring price rises. According to the Antena 3 news channel however, there are voices saying such solution is unnecessary. Experts say the tax hike would immediately increase incomes inflows and the long-term effect will be positive, nonetheless given people will get used to it. Not everybody would see that as a good solution, given the consequent rise in the cost of living.


Millennium bcp sells 95 pc of Turkish division to Credit Europe Bank


Millennium bcp, Portugal’s largest bank listed on the stock exchange, will sell its 95 per cent stockholding in Turkey-based branch Millennium Bank AS to Credit Europe Bank for about EUR 62 M, Mediafax reports. The before-tax gain for Millennium comes to EUR 5.4 M and is expected to bear a positive impact on capital adequacy rates, the Portuguese bank announced Wednesday. BCP will retain a 5 per cent participation in the Turkish bank, yet it entered an agreement with Credit Europe over selling the stock for a share price at least equal to that paid for the majority participation sale deal. Millennium’s sale of its Turkish branch is part of the bank’s strategy to focus on such major markers as Portugal, Angola or Poland.

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ING Bank: Romania is out of recession


In quarterly terms, GDP has increased 0.6 per cent in Q4, 2009, which is equivalent to going out of recession, an ING Bank analysis, taken over by Realitatea.net, shows. The estimates of the bank show that the economy increased 0.6 per cent in the last three months of the past year vs. the previous quarter. ING Bank analysts also consider that the economic advance will continue also this quarter, and at annual level Romania will be “on plus” in the second quarter, when it will grow 1.3 per cent against April-June 2009. As for unemployment, the economists of the bank consider that the unemployment rate could rise to 8.5-9 per cent, but will not exceed 10 per cent.


BofA, Citigroup rating outlooks
negative-S&P



Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday revised its rating outlooks on Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc to negative from stable, citing uncertainty whether the government will provide more extraordinary support that benefits debt holders. A negative outlook indicates a rating downgrade is more likely over the next two years. Citigroup and Bank of America’s debt weakened slightly after the S&P announcement. “We previously stated our belief that the extraordinary support was temporary,” S&P said in a statement. “We believe markets are beginning to stabilize, and the U.S. government is seeking ways to reduce the potential for moral hazard and systemic risk associated with large financial institutions.” Ratings on Citigroup and Bank of America are currently enhanced by three notches to reflect the potential for additional extraordinary government support, S&P said.

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