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SOFIA (Bulgaria), March 10 (SeeNews) - The planned expansion of Romanian low-cost carrier Blue Air's network to include seven new routes is the most popular story filed by SeeNews over the past week.
Over the past two years international low-cost carriers, including Ireland's Ryanair and Hungary-based Wizz Air, have posted robust growth in passenger numbers to and from the region, in particular Bulgaria and Romania.
Standard&Poor's Global Ratings's decision to lower to 'B-' from 'B' its long-term corporate credit rating on Croatia's biggest food retailer and food manufacturing group Agrokor over rising refinancing risks is the second most popular story on SeeNews this week.
The rating cut comes after in January another global ratings agency, Moody's, cut Agrokor's corporate family rating (CFR) to B3. Following the rating revision, the company announced it was pulling out of a syndicated loan deal it had struck with several international lenders. The news sent the price of its bonds on international markets into a downward spiral as investors lost confidence in the company's ability to pay back its debts. Croatian media have been speculating that Agrokor will need to sell off a number of its affiliates in order to service its obligations.
Macedonia's unfolding political crisis remains in the focus of reader's attention this week as well.
On Tuesday, Macedonia's president Gjorge Ivanov urged the EU and NATO to publicly condemn the 'Tirana platform' - a list of political demands put forward by ethnic Albanian parties in the country and facilitated by Albania's prime minister - which has hindered the formation of a new government in Skopje.
Following are these and more of our top stories:
ROMANIA'S BLUE AIR TO LAUNCH 7 ROUTES FROM BUCHAREST, IASI, LIVERPOOL IN JUNE
Romanian low-cost carrier Blue Air said on Wednesday it will launch seven routes from Bucharest, the eastern city of Iasi and from UK's Liverpool as of mid-June. Blue Air will start flying from Bucharest to Oslo in Norway on June 15, to Helsinki in Finland on June 16 and to UK's Bristol on June 17. All three routes will be operated three times a week. From Iasi, Blue Air will fly to Glasgow in Scotland starting June 17 and to Italy's Bergamo and Florence starting June 15. Read more at: http://bit.ly/2mGcd0g
S&P CUTS RATING IN CROATIA'S AGROKOR, OUTLOOK NEGATIVE
Standard&Poor's Global Ratings said it has lowered to 'B-' from 'B' its long-term corporate credit rating on Croatia-based food retailer and food manufacturing group Agrokor, with a negative outlook.
"The downgrade reflects our view that Agrokor's capital structure is negatively affected by rising refinancing risks linked to upcoming debt maturities in 2018", S&P explained. "At the same time, the group remains highly leveraged (adjusted debt to EBITDA over 6x), with a lower-than-projected EBITDA base for 2016-2017 due to underperforming retail operations in Slovenia. Currently, access to capital markets also appears to be very uncertain". http://bit.ly/2mJ87Ed
MACEDONIA'S PRESIDENT CALLS ON EU, NATO TO CONDEMN 'TIRANA PLATFORM'
Macedonia's president Gjorge Ivanov on Tuesday urged the EU and NATO to publicly condemn the 'Tirana platform' - a list of political demands put forward by ethnic Albanian parties in the country and facilitated by Albania's prime minister - which has hindered the formation of a new government in Skopje.
Ivanov also asked the EU and NATO to condemn the "flagrant interference in the internal affairs of the Republic of Macedonia" of neighbouring Albania and Kosovo, referring to the participation of Albania's prime minister Edi Rama in the drafting of the platform and the reactions of officials and institutions following Ivanov's refusal to award a mandate for forming of Macedonia's new government to Zoran Zaev, leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM).
Last week, Ivanov refused to offer Zaev to form a government, citing concerns that SDSM's agreement with ethnic Albanian parties in parliament to make a government coalition threatens the country's sovereignty. Zaev, whose party came in second in the December early election, secured a parliamentary majority to form a government after reaching an agreement with three ethnic Albanian parties on key issues regarding the governance of Macedonia, including the use of the Albanian language. The deal came after the election winners, conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, failed to agree with ethnic Albanian party DUI on forging a government coalition. http://bit.ly/2lSYDC8
ASCENDIS HEALTH TO BUY ROMANIA'S SUN WAVE PHARMA FOR 42.5 MLN EURO
South African over-the-counter (OTC) healthcare products maker Ascendis Health Limited said on Wednesday it plans to acquire Romanian alternative medicine products distributor Sun Wave Pharma for 42.5 million euro ($47.7 million).
The business will be acquired with a maximum deferred payment of 23 million euro over three years based on financial targets, and will be accretive from May 2017. http://bit.ly/2mm157D
SERBIA CLOSE TO SELLING RTB BOR TO CHINESE MINING GROUP
Serbia's economy ministry is close to signing an agreement for the sale of copper miner and smelter RTB Bor to one of the largest Chinese mining companies, according to Serbian media reports.
The government is in intensive talks with Chinese companies for the privatisation of RTB Bor under a model similar to the one used in the sale of Serbian steel mill Zelezara Smederevo to China's Hesteel in 2016, public broadcaster Radio Televizije Srbije (RTS) quoted unnamed sources at the economy ministry as saying. http://bit.ly/2mLH7oa