News round-up

10 - 17 February 1997

Bass in Czech beer Market

Bass Breweries have merged their three Czech brewing interests into one company. The newly formed company will be known as Prague Breweries. All three combined companies, of which Bass owns 55 per cent, will give Bass a 14 per cent market share of the domestic beer market in the Czech Republic.

Chechens vote for independence

Officials throughout Chechenya kept the polls open for a further two hours on Tuesday 5 February as the turnout at the country's elections exceeded expectations. Voting appeared to be tight between the two main candidates, Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev. All of the six candidates, however, favour independence from Russia bringing further embarrasment to the Kremlin after its recent military losses in the region.

Polish Finance Minister resigns

Polish Finance Minister, Grzegorz Kobdko, resigned on Tuesday 5 February. During his three years in office, he has presided over a drop of 11 per cent in inflation and an average growth of sic per cent. His successor, Marek Balka, who has been an adviser to President Kwaniewski, will move ahead with pension reforms and privatisation.

Albanian pyramid payout

The Albanian Government stated on 4 February that it will shortly begin to pay out on the frozen assets of the country's collapsed pyramid finance schemes. Savers in the Populli scheme will receive 60 per cent of their deposits, while the Xhaferri scheme savers will receive less. Despite this, around 30,000 people took to the streets in Tirana on 6 February, in protest against the collapse of the doomed pyramid investment schemes. Depositors, who are owed in the region of £300 million, called for the resignation of President Sali Berisha and his Government.

Ukrainian Central Banker reselected

Victor Yushchenko, Governor of the Central Bank of the Ukraine, was re-elected on 5 February for a second term. Mr Yushchenko was responsible for brining inflation down from 10,000 per cent in 1993, to 38 per cent last year. He has said tht the Ukraine would increase its financing of the budget deficit form the sales of governmetn treasury bills, which have attracted western investor interest.

Russian privatisation continues

The Russian Government will carry on with its privatisation programme this year, by selling shareholdings in some of the country's biggest companies. The move will bring in much needed revenue for the Government, and help the liquidity of Russia's stock market. The sales will include a further 15 per cent in Lukoil, and up to two per cent of united energy systems. A 50 per cent stake in the country's largest insurance company, Rosgosstrakh, will also be put up for sale in an attempt to inject more commercial discipline into the under-developed financial services sector.

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